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Customer Service is Part of the Customer Experience


Along this line of thought, Thomas went on to mention the need adapt from reactive operations and maintenance handling to be more proactive. For example, if a consumer may encounter an issue with their energy/water supply, an essential part of providing a great customer experience is effectively communicating this with a customer through their preferred channel. Yes, it’s bad news, but when a brand is proactive with communication and understanding of customer behavior, the news will be better received and far preferable to no advance alert at all.


Claire Maher from Water2Business spoke about putting customer service at the heart of water companies. Similar to what Thomas was saying, Maher stressed the need to transform network data into maintenance information to minimize service disruptions. Combining data from operational control systems with data from enterprise IT systems into a single place and enabling real-time informed decision making can drastically improve customer service, and, by extension, overall customer experience.

Mobilizing this centralized data would also impact operational performance and maintain regulatory compliance—an excellent follow-up from from what Thomas talked about. One thing I’ve learned since working with the utility sector is that, from a customer service point of view, utility companies are way behind the times. Water companies in particular need to improve, and this is why CX is such a focus now (and has been for about 12-18 months).

Maher spoke of the need to serve business customers in the new, open market. She highlighted a stat that immediately stood out to me: According to Forrester, 72% of companies say customer experience is their top priority. To be clear, she wasn’t just talking about utility companies, she was talking about brands in any sector. Nowadays, customers don’t compare CX between companies in the same sector, they compare it to any brand experience in any sector. This is why utility companies desperately need to adapt to current trends; they are way down on customer satisfaction, and in today’s world, consumers won’t stand for it.


Another talk that stuck out in my mind, “Managing Data in an Information-Driven World,” centered on brands needing to use the data they have on customers in the right way. Utility brands must ensure they have analytical talent in their businesses to bring purpose and action to data collection. They also need to integrate data cleansing activities into business as usual and allow customers to manage their own data through self-serve portals. The personalization of services supported by data analytics is the top trend that will change the call center in the next five years as self-service becomes more and more important.


Utility Week Live 2017 proved to be an excellent two days, presenting some innovative concepts from connected drones to new poles made from less wood and only four different sizes to improve the network we all get our energy from. The core takeaway from the conference, though, is the need for brands to better interact with customers, often through customer service efforts, and the importance of using data to support overall customerexperience. I’m looking forward to continuing discussions I have with utility companies in understanding what they want to do and how Alterian can help them, as we did for ScottishPower, organize and act upon their data to provide the best possible CX.

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