Consider this scenario: your utility notices that there was a high volume of calls to make payment arrangements for residential customers in the months immediately following high bill season. Analysis of the calls by disposition code reveals a total of 70,000 often lengthy calls.
Now imagine that your utility knew that during that time, 100,000 customers went online to make payment arrangements. Of those, only half were successful. About 40,000 of those ended up calling your utility, accounting for more than half of the 70,000 calls received.
At a cost of around $6-$7 per call, those 40,000 customers cost your utility approximately $250,000 that year. Increasing the percentage of customers who successfully make payment arrangements online, would not only deliver a better customer experience but would result in significant costs savings for your utility.
Meet Customer Journey Analytics
Valuable insights, like those mentioned above, can be uncovered more productively using Customer Journey Analytics. Instead of looking at the number of payment arrangements made through the call center and the number made online, journey analytics maps customer journeys across channels. By doing so, utilities can understand when customers are “leaking” from low-to-high cost-to-serve channels.
According to McKinsey, companies that utilize this type of analytics see a 15-20% reduction in calls and visits and a decrease in custom churn. They also report that journeys are 30-40% more predictive of customer satisfaction and churn, and organizations that analyze the customer journey see gains in customer experience and growth.
Solving the Problem through Customer Feedback Management Platforms
Once this problem is identified in its entirety, there are measures your utility can take to fix it. Like a lot of utilities, you could look at your current online experience, count the necessary number of pages and clicks, review the language used, the options presented and the way in which they are presented and reach your own conclusions. Or, you could get answers by asking the people who know best; customers who weren’t able to make a payment arrangement online.
Customer Feedback Management Platforms from companies like InMoment, Medallia, and Qualtrics (now part of SAP) are being explored by utilities across the country. These platforms help organizations solicit and analyze structured and unstructured feedback from key customers across channels. They can pop up a quick, real-time survey just as the customer exits the payment arrangement screen asking them how you could have made it the process easier. Feedback given to a U.S. based electric and gas utility with online payment arrangement challenges included:
“There are too many options and I just want to know which option is best for me”;
“Given the fact I had already logged in, why do I need to re-enter certain pieces of redundant information?”; and
“I had questions about the payment arrangement and couldn’t find answers to online.”
“Offering your customers real-time opportunities to explain the issue, gives you the intelligence to fix what’s broken in the online experience,” says James Riley, a Digital and Analytics Advisor for the utilities industry. “Whether it’s decreasing the number of options presented to eliminate the need to re-enter information, or provide an online FAQ for payment arrangements, Customer Journey Analytics, and Customer Feedback Management Platforms have amazing potential to create a better customer experience and save your utility a whole lot of money.”