In many cases, it’s not enough to simply wait for unhappy customers to come calling before addressing their problems and concerns. In fact, some businesses have found that a more proactive, rather than reactive, approach to customer service brings about a better, more fulfilling customer experience.
This has shown to be the case for the smart grid industry, where customer engagement has been made a top priority. According to the SmartGrid Consumer Collaborative (SGCC), utilities that have taken an active approach to integrate education and engagement in to their customer-facing smart grid programs have seen high levels of customer satisfaction and acceptance.
What these utilities did was educate their customers before deployment, and anticipated questions before customers even had the chance to ask them. For example, San Diego Gas & Electric reached out to its customers over a 90-day period, educating them about smart meters, and how and when they would be installed. As a result of the increased knowledge and awareness, the company received only 1,200 complaints, out of approximately 2.3 million smart meter installations.
Other utilities used easily accessible Web pages to answer common questions and to educate customers on the new technology. Knowing exactly how the meters work, why they are beneficial and that their personal information would remain secure allayed concerns and consequently reduced customer complaints.
Some companies were also able to communicate the importance of reducing peak hour usage, and encouraged customers to use their power wisely and cost-efficiently. Certain utilities gave advanced notice of peak price times over the phone, allowing customers to adjust their usage to reap the greatest cost savings, which provided the added benefit of a more energy efficient grid system.
“When utilities take certain steps to engage consumers in the smart grid and empower them to manage their energy, it works,” said Patty Durand, executive director of the SGCC. “As consumers become more educated about smart grid and smart meters, and have access to more information, pricing, and automation applications, their knowledge and favorability grows, and so does our nation’s energy efficiency.”
Other companies looking to avoid unhappy customers would be well served to act proactively in this way. Fortunately, there are powerful technologies available to help these organizations get started. Predictive dialers, like those provided by Spitfire, allow businesses to optimize customer engagement campaigns, by efficiently dialing, distributing, and monitoring outbound call center operations. Though a series of complex algorithms, a predictive dialer calculates precisely when to place calls, predicting when an agent will finish a current conversation and dialing the next before they are finished. The technology also neatly organizes customer data, call history, and contact details for maximum information availability.
Thus, with intelligent call management, companies can maximize the number of agent-customer interactions in a day, addressing potential customer issues before they arise.
Edited by Rory J. Thompson