Utility distribution companies are deploying self-help customer service options in greater numbers than ever before, according to a new Chartwell industry study. The challenge for those utilities is to encourage their customers to adopt these new capabilities.
The report, Migrating Customers to Self-Help Options in the Utility Industry, details a number of practical examples of utilities deploying technologies such as interactive voice response (IVR), and web-based service options from the customer care centre.
Chartwell's report estimates that nearly 70% of utilities offer some form of self-help customer service, and poses the question of how many customers use those self-help applications, and what best practices are needed to encourage customers to use them. Usage rates vary from utility to utility, but it is clear that those achieving success with self-service offerings are launching them as a service option and not a replacement to the existing human element of customer care.
By way of example, IVR usage rates at US-based Idaho Power increased when the utility installed its automated telephone attendant. The report also explores the good reasons why Portland General Electric conducts usability testing with its customers before launching new self-help applications.