03 Nov Customer Service – Learning lessons across industries
Utility companies and cable companies share a few of the same fundamental customer service challenges. In both industries, billing systems integration and management, call center operations, and service outage management are prime focal points that can cause many sleepless nights at all levels of the organization. Additionally, organizations in both industries are frequently built upon numerous smaller acquisitions, have a product the consumer often views as a commodity, and typically only experience customer interactions after the problems happen, such as a service interruption. It’s an uphill battle with no simple solution, and the horizon for both industries looks no less challenging.
In the past decade utility and cable companies have learned a hard lesson: their customers are beginning to have more power over their fate than ever before. In both industries there are many reasons for this shifting tide of power such as regulatory changes giving customers more choices, disruptive technologies creating new categories of competition, and the power of social media. The digital transformation is real, and increasingly we live in a hyper-connected world. With just a click of a mouse, one Tweet, or an upload of a YouTube video, a single customer can incite a PR nightmare, driving customers to find service elsewhere via innovative technologies and new competition.
As a result, utility and cable companies have begun to further intensify their focus beyond just delivering their product; many are reinventing their customer service and experience models. When exploring options to improve customer service in utilities and cable, perhaps these companies should not just look at their direct competitors but also at their neighboring industries. Below are some recommendations based on tactics that have driven success for organizations in both of these industries:
Equip and empower your customers. Take advantage of the same technology that often presents the challenge. Digitally transform your customer’s experience by leveraging mobile technology and social media so that they work for you, not against you. Leverage the speed and convenience of these digital capabilities to get ahead of the issues and give the customer the opportunity to get their own answers and solve their own problems with the same ease that they are able to voice the problems.
A happy and properly trained call agent means a happy customer. You can market and advertise all you want but your call agents and call tree structure are what truly leave your customer believing in your brand and abilities. For instance, consider your call center incentive structure. Are you motivating your call agents through incentives on how short their call time is, or the actual result of the call?
Change Management needs to happen for your customers too. These are both industries where a merger or acquisition can immediately impact a customer overnight. From your billing system to who to call with a question, are you covering all bases both internally and externally when it comes to your customer experience during an organizational transformation?
The age of the customer is here more than ever before and, as a result, the competitive landscape is changing. This warrants not just a second look at your own organization and competitors, but also at the peer industries also working to transform to a competitive and customer-centric organization.