When it comes to high quality customer service, utility companies often get a bad rap. These companies may develop a reputation for unfriendly service reps and poor communication. In some cases, the reputation may be well-deserved. However, there are many steps utility companies can take to raise the bar on their customer service, which would result in more satisfaction and fewer complaints overall.
Embracing Customer Service
Some utility companies see themselves in the business of providing the utilities, rather than serving the customer. However, since customers are the ones that purchase their services, it would benefit the companies to see customers as an integral part of their operation, rather than an inconvenience. In other words, companies that have stopped making excuses for poor service and instead embraced the idea of serving the customer are the companies that are succeeding today.
Utility companies have seen tremendous change in recent decades, with buyouts, mergers and other changes to company ownership becoming quite commonplace. These changes can be confusing to customers who write a check to one company one month, and then find themselves paying a different company a month later. To make the process more complicated, many utility companies end up with a hodgepodge of IT systems that make it challenging for customers to know how to connect with a company when they have questions. Streamlining the service process should be a priority for utility companies putting customer service at the forefront of their business.
Getting Answers for Customers
When a customer calls his utility company with a question, he expects an answer to his request. In some cases, utility employees do not provide the answer the customer is looking for, which leaves the customer frustrated and angry with the company. Like any business focused on high quality service, those working directly with customers at utility companies should be able to answer most of the questions commonly asked. These might include reasons for the difference in a bill amount to when disrupted service will be restored.
While customers do look at the price of their utilities, their first concern is generally how much value they are receiving for their hard-earned dollar. Value begins with reliability, so utility companies need to implement the necessary tools and technology to ensure reliable service. At the same time, customers appreciate a company that lets them know how they can save money, by conserving energy or switching to a different plan. Employees should be equipped with the information necessary to help customers maximize the value of their service. However, there is a fine line to walk – if customers believe a company is dictating lifestyle choices for the sake of conserving energy, they may balk at the suggestions and resent the efforts.
Utility companies are like any other business that makes a living from their customers. Unfortunately, not all utility companies today see their industry as customer service-focused. Those companies that do embrace the service factor may find they have a larger, more loyal customer base and fewer customer complaints to handle overall.