The utilities industry is currently in a transitional period, moving from a commodities business model to a service model. Within a service business model the customer’s needs are placed at the centre and in today’s digital era technology plays a huge part in delivering great services. The inflexible communication channels provided by the industry do not reflect today’s communication technology and consumers’ interaction preferences. The introduction of C-MeX to the water sector is a signal for change in the industry. With today’s consumers becoming accustomed to instant, transparent and flexible services the utilities industry has been behind for too long.
Whether it is service or sale, today’s consumers want seamless experiences from every organisation they engage with. If they want to buy a product they look for the company who will give them the most convenient delivery including the right location at the right time with the ability to see the live status of their parcel. When it comes to service appointments consumers are coming to expect the same level of service. They want service appointments to cause the least disruption to their day with the ability to select the time and date that suits them and be able to track the arrival and status of the engineer. Our research with YouGov revealed the extreme anxiety consumers experience not being kept up-to-date about service appointments.
With the introduction of C-MeX the water sector will now be compared to app born services like Uber and Deliveroo. If the water sector adopts the same individual centric approach as these services it will be set to increase customer satisfaction and engagement, as well as improve efficiencies within the sector. The energy sector has already been moving towards being more customer centred and has seen significant benefits. Introducing smart meters and price comparison services like uSwitch, has given new power and control to consumers. Consumers only need their postcode and a recent energy bill, to switch gas and electricity supplier when they want. Choice, control and transparency for consumers can lead to higher engagement levels, providing the opportunity for utility companies to build trust and create better overall experiences.
British Gas has used Localz to develop their customer experience platform. They’ve seen failed appointments due to no-access fall by up to 20%. “On my way” communication advises customers of their engineer’s live ETA, enabling them to track their approach on a real-time map and interact directly with their engineer when required. According to ForeSee’s 2018 Utilities CX Insights report, 80% of customers would ditch the call centre if provided with the right online experience. Not only does this level of communication prevent customer no-shows and enable appointment rescheduling, but it gives customers the freedom to get on with the school run, or pop out for an emergency shop, without fear of missing their engineer.
With a water meter rollout on the cards and the C-MeX coming into play, the water sector has a real opportunity to learn from the energy sector. Talking to the customer in their preferred channel, offering more choice, control and transparency will dramatically improve customer experience in the industry. Not only will customers benefit from improved service levels but water companies will seriously improve their operational efficiency.