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Global leader in customer engagement Verint has released research findings which outline the top priorities among electric utility consumers that improve customer experience (CX), and reveal how providers are responding to COVID-19.

Electric utility consumers who report having a great experience have a 133 per cent higher retention rate and are 142 per cent more likely to recommend their provider compared to those with a poor experience. 

These are just a few of the key findings of new research based on a survey of more than 6,200 electrical utility consumers conducted by Verint Systems.

The research is based on the Verint Experience Index benchmark survey of consumer satisfaction with 25 leading electricity providers* and includes Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) and Net Promoter Score (NPS) rankings. 

The report shows which providers deliver winning experiences for each of the four core utility customer experience satisfaction drivers – customer service, electricity service, price and website. 

Based on interviews with several utilities, the report also explores key COVID-19 challenges utilities have faced, and how they’ve worked to understand and meet shifting customer needs arising from the pandemic. 

Providers cite the need to adapt CX and voice of customer (VoC) data collection, re-evaluate communication strategies and become more proactive with contact centre outreach.

When customers choose to stay with their existing provider, one-third cite brand reputation, one-third cite cost and one-quarter credit customer service.

When asked about engagement preferences, digital was the preferred channel for research (66 per cent), to pay bills (67 per cent), to look for money saving tips (67 per cent) and monitor outages (58 per cent).

Of those surveyed, 19 per cent of respondents had reached out to the contact centre in the past 30 days.

Of these, 42 per cent had tried to resolve their issues via digital channels but had to then call customer service. 

Many reported they either couldn’t find information, found site navigation difficult, or encountered technical issues or errors. 

The research found that if even one-quarter of these issues could be resolved via digital self service, providers could save US$945,000 for every one million contact centre interactions**.

When it comes to outage reporting, the contact centre is the most used channel. Only about one-third of customers (36 per cent) said they used a digital channel to report an outage, compared to 54 per cent who used the contact centre. 

Of those who prefer digital, over one in five (22 per cent) still used the contact centre. If one-quarter of those could be converted to digital self-serve channels, providers could save US$495,000 for every one million calls***.

Utility customers increasingly value solutions to help them be good environmental stewards and reduce their energy usage, and customer engagement in this area can significantly improve customer satisfaction. 

The research found that CSAT jumps more than seven points for customers taking part in three specific engagements: smart meter usage, enrollment in energy usage alerts and use of energy saving resources.

Verint Global Vice President and GM, Management, Kevin Daly, said, “Utility customers judge their providers not just at the service level, but at an experience level – just as they do with retailers, banks or cable companies. 

“Our research reveals the most significant opportunities for electrical utilities to provide experiences that consumers truly value and where they can achieve cost savings.

“When providers listen across the customer journey and are strategic in using the insights from this data, they can deliver experiences that go beyond expectations and delight their customers.”

For more information, and to download the report, click here.

Survey methodology

The Verint Experience Index is a panel survey report chronicling customer experiences across key industries. 

This edition ranks the omnichannel customer experiences of the top 25 US electricity providers with the most residential customers according to the US Energy Information Administration.

The Index features a panel sample of 6,291 respondents in total, representative of the US general population, with at least 250 responses per brand. 

Responses were collected from 7 February – 3 March 2020, and were based on the qualifying question, “In the past 90 days, have you viewed and/or paid the electricity bill for your primary residence?”. 

Rankings in the index are based on CSAT, using a scale of 0-100. NPS is also shown, on a scale of -100 to 100. When two or more scores are identical at one decimal place, the next decimal place is used to break ties and determine ranking. 

CSAT margin of error is ±2.18 and NPS margin of error is ±8.29. For more than a decade, the Verint Experience Index has chronicled digital and omnichannel experiences across key industries (previously published as the ForeSee Experience Index).

This partner content was brought to you by Verint. For more information, click here.

*The 25 US electricity providers with the most residential customers according to the US Energy Information Administration were chosen for this study.

**Based on a cost of $1 per minute and an average call time of 9 minutes.

***Based on a cost of $1 per minute and an average call time of 9 minutes.

©2020 utilitymagazine. All rights reserved

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