The hidden ROI of customer engagement in utilities


Customer expectations have changed pretty radically in recent years. Thanks to on-demand service providers like Uber, utility clients expect more from their service providers — like in-the-moment updates on their service appointments, real-time technician tracking, direct contact via SMS, and more.

This technology is the norm across many industries now, so why should energy services and other utilities be any different?

Most utility providers fail to meet customers where they are, but companies that do provide tech-enabled, customer-centric experiences can set themselves apart from the competition and save money at the same time. Here, we’ll explore the hidden ROI of customer engagement for utility companies.

Improving the utility customer experience

E-commerce retailers, rideshare companies, and food delivery services have coloured the way that customers see their service providers. It’s time for utility companies to keep up. 

That’s why Localz created bolt-on field service software that makes it easy for businesses with a mobile workforce to implement:

  • Real-time utility appointment updates via SMS, email or landline
  • Live technician ETA tracking through a branded, web-based portal
  • Two-way communication between the customer and service provider
  • Post-appointment feedback in a quick and simple format

These mobile field solutions help make customers’ lives much easier in important ways. 

Plus, the return on investment goes far beyond customer experience — streamlined communication workflows reduce no-access calls, speed up appointments, and cut down on call centre volumes. That translates into significant reductions in customer care overhead costs.

Reduce inbound call volumes

Inbound calls are more than a cost centre for businesses, they’re a hassle for customers. Luckily, there are ways to reduce them.

Customer experience features like appointment reminders allow the customer to plan for their day, while real-time alerts offer a valuable “heads up” that the technician will be arriving shortly. Finally, a link to last-mile tracking leaves no doubt when the technician will be knocking on the door.

The result is far fewer calls to the customer centre asking where a technician is, when they will arrive, or trying to reschedule for quick last-minute changes (like covering for childcare needs, grocery trips, and so on). 

For example, one utility provider leapt at the opportunity to improve customer experience with real-time tracking and SMS updates. Once these measures were introduced, “Where’s my technician” calls for wastewater appointments decreased by 50%.

Just how much can you save by reducing inbound calls?

For a typical field service company, an inbound chase call costs around £7.50. Say your company has 100 technicians, working 4 appointments per day. Now imagine that 25% of those appointments result in a call to your contact centre. That’s 94,000 appointments and £176,250 of avoidable phone calls.

A mere 30% reduction in calls would equate to savings of £52,875 across the year. That’s thousands of pounds that could be used to support customers who really need it!

Reduce failed appointments

Effective field service mobile software can dramatically reduce the kind of miscommunication that leads to no-access missed appointments. 

While no tech can ever ensure a 100% first-time access rate, you can avoid a lot of missed appointments and increase first-time fix rates with proactive customer communication. With the power of two-way communication options, technicians can get the information they need to access a property in a timely manner — local directions, flat entry codes, even which door is best to enter from. 

Two-way communication also enables customers to reach out to say they need a little extra time to answer the door, or have stepped out for a few moments and will return soon. 

Reduce the need for outbound calls

Manual follow-up calls and third-party call centres for seeking feedback are resource-intensive, and usually don’t offer the full picture. For many utilities, they turn customer feedback into a cost centre, rather than an investment and growth opportunity.

Worse yet, many aren’t especially timely due to their limited resources. Your outreach could come days or weeks after the appointment, leading to less-than-accurate reviews of the service experience. Furthermore, any item that may have been actionable right after an appointment will have long since passed due for easy resolution. 

Sending automatic requests for feedback increases actionable feedback and reduces the need for outbound calls. Customers can feel comfortable offering their honest opinion on the experience they just had. Problematic feedback can be automatically routed to your customer care team, which can strive for quick and easy fixes for the customer. 

Additionally, many customers will opt out of follow-up calls if given the option. When a water company implemented an instant feedback form that asked if the customer would like to receive a follow-up call, 83% opted out — that’s 83% fewer outbound calls, and a lot of time and money saved.

Increase customer satisfaction

Making customers happy is a worthy end goal in and of itself. But for utility providers, there are financial and regulatory incentives to improve customer satisfaction.

Repair and maintenance appointments can be stressful for customers (particularly when their water or power is not working properly). In those high-stress moments, it’s especially important to provide the best possible appointment experience.

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No matter how you frame it, adding a customer engagement solution to your customer experience stack will lead to ROI. But how do you add the necessary features without overhauling your entire tech stack?

Consider looking for a solution provider like Localz, who offers plug-ins for your existing software to provide experiences that customers want, including:

  • On My Way notifications
  • Real-time GPS tracking
  • Two-way SMS communication and group chat with the contact centre
  • Instant automated feedback solicitations

With these features and more, you can generate valuable data that can be used to target pain points, highlight top-performing technicians, and streamline your overall business operations. The result? Increased satisfaction, reduced churn, and improved customer trust — which all benefit your bottom line.

Want to see customer engagement in action? Learn more about Localz for utility providers.