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Utilities Change the Communications Game

Just a few years ago, utilities typically used separate communication technologies for each operational application. Not only were these solutions unable to scale, they resulted in a disjointed customer experience. Today, utilities more often work with connected applications. This presents a wonderful opportunity for utilities to gather data and communicate with their customers in a much more holistic way.

Utility customer activity generates a plethora of rich and useful data. Pair this with additional data sources, technology that enables real-time decisioning and the fact that customers are now using new channels to communicate—and utilities have a powerful toolbox to deliver on the three important actions of successful utility customer contact: reach, engage and resolve. Leveraging this toolbox, utilities can see vast improvements in efficiency and profitability in almost every area of utility customer contact, from outage and truck roll communication to delinquencies.

Here’s how they can deliver on the three necessary actions for successful customer contact:

  • Reach. Utilities need to know how and where to communicate with customers. It doesn’t matter how important the message; if it misses the target going out, the customer may never even see it. Analytics drive contact strategies that find the best contact channel, script and time for each customer notification. Results are constantly fed back into the system, and the contact strategies are dynamically updated to optimize for next time.
  • Engage. Utilities have to fight for attention these days as customers are inundated with information. Customers receive a variety of communications from many sources—some timely and important and some not—and it can be difficult for customers to understand which should get priority. In addition, customers need special treatment to help them get back on track with payments and understand related service consequences. Analytics and rules allow for personalized engagement scripts and treatments that are 100% compliant and uniform across channels.
  • Resolve. Many utilities still rely heavily on call centers and live person interventions to resolve issues. This is a costly and inefficient way to go. Technology solutions can automatically rectify issues and update the system of record--with no operator intervention. For example, payments and promises, settlements and live agent connections can all be automated.
Here’s an example:
  1. A customer’s score from a decision system triggers an assessment of data showing that, because of lack of payment, the customer may be at risk for having his/her power shut off.
  2. A communications strategy is created through a rules flow based on the customer’s preferred communication options.
  3. The communication strategy is implemented immediately.
  4. The customer is sent a text to resolve the issue.
This scenario can be replicated for a variety of utility-related issues, anything from payment reminder texts and service appointment to severe weather outage alerts for customers. Intelligent automation enables businesses to engage with many more customers, while freeing up analysts and call center staff to engage in more complex consumer cases where an open dialogue will yield the best. Analysts can spend more time on activities such as analyzing results and using them to develop new, more successful strategies through a user-friendly rules management interface.

Many utilities struggle with the idea of implementing communications systems changes within their organization—fearing complexity, cost and potential down time. However with a SaaS (software as a service) and platform system such as FICO® Customer Communication Services, a utility provider can be up and running in 4 to 12 weeks (versus 12 to 18 months for most other customer action technology systems) and with little capital investment. The platform’s modular design allows rapid integration with the analytics, decision engines and rules management applications of your choice. And SaaS-based customer contact services can close the operational loop between decision management technology, communications strategy, and customer intervention and resolution.

Learn more about how FICO Customer Communication Services can improve your utility’s customer contact, or read our white paper: Omni-Channel Communications for Utilities.

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