The 5 Biggest Challenges of Customer-Centricity in Utilities and Telecoms

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Tuesday, August 31, 2021

For the most part, putting customers first is one of the key priorities of businesses, and this includes organisations across a range of industries. In the utilities and telecoms industry, though, things get a little more complicated.

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The 5 Biggest Challenges of Customer-Centricity in Utilities and Telecoms

Many of these service providers haven’t had to operate in such a competitive market until more recently. Because of this, the fulfillment of customer needs beyond the basic service they offer (such as keeping the lights on or the Wi-fi connected) has been less of a priority.

However, things are changing - and fast with the rise of digital disruptors across all industries.

Today’s consumers expect an Amazon-like experience from almost every company they do business with, whether that’s a retailer, hotel, restaurant, utility provider, or anyone else for that matter.

This means they want providers to embrace the digital world, offer more information, easier access, align with their ethical views and deliver an all-round better customer experience (CX).

In fact, a recent survey found that over 50% of customers would prefer to engage with their utility providers digitally, yet only 33% of consumers recall any digital communication from these companies so far.

Yet it's not as simple as just embracing digitalisation. To achieve full customer-centricity in utilities and telecoms, this must be built into the culture of the business, but there are several challenges organisations in the industry face that prevent this:

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1. Turning data into actionable insights

In order for utilities and telecoms providers to offer the best possible customer experience, they need to be able to gather, analyse, and understand customer data.

This is something every industry is battling with right now, and for many, the toughest part is getting the right technology and teams in place to collect, collate, and analyse this data to provide actionable insights.

But the good news is that they have a lot of great data at their fingertips if done properly. For example, not only do they gather their customer’s basic information when they sign up, but they can also monitor their monthly usage and how they use their services.

This allows them to create better marketing campaigns and personalise their services to secure and retain loyal customers.

2. Staying competitive

The new threat to utilities and telecoms providers from digital pioneers are most tangible at the customer interface/service.

This means that in many cases, information and access are more important to consumers than the actual material assets. They also expect a better customer experience in terms of customer service, support, online accounts, and access to their own information.

With consumer demands higher than ever, utilities and telecoms providers need to put their customers at the center of every process and business function. This ensures that they are giving them what they want, when they want and this can improve their chances of securing customers over other competitors who might not be doing as much to please them.

For example, providers that are doing their bit to reduce their carbon footprint, give back to local communities, or be more energy-efficient should shout about this as a unique selling point over their competitors. This in turn gets the buy in from customers who want to feel like their contributing to something bigger.

In a nutshell, it’s about understanding what customers want and doing your best to make this happen.

3. Meeting customers’ digital needs

Digitalisation and automation have become crucial to businesses in almost every industry, and as such, consumers have come to expect a certain level of digital services and interactions at their fingertips.

An example of this might be wanting an app so they can check in on their account or the ability to control their smart home/devices from their phone, as well as quick online responses to queries or problems.

Today’s consumers are part of the always-on culture; therefore, providers need to embrace digitalisation if they hope to keep up with their customers’ needs. This might include actions such as:

  • Installing smart meters that allow you to create tailored digital products and offers
  • Offering online accounts or dedicated apps that allow for 24/7 access to account information
  • Higher levels of customer service including a seamless omnichannel experience that embraces modern tools, such as social media, chatbots
  • Creating demand and response programs that award customers discounts and rebates based on their data
  • Sending out literature about the company’s environmentally sustainable practices and how they’re trying to be more green
  • Providing information and regular updates about any technological advancements and innovation the company is implementing

Although embracing digitalisation and subsequent tools might feel like a huge challenge, it’s something that all businesses must tackle if they hope to put their customers at the center of everything they do.

4. Creating a seamless customer experience

Today’s customers value experience over price and will choose their providers based on the customer experience they offer. In fact, a study found that almost four-fifths of millennials would consider switching energy providers if a seamless experience was not provided.

This shows how important the customer experience is to consumers and, therefore, organisations should try their hardest to offer a seamless omnichannel journey.

For utilities and telecoms providers, this means ensuring that customers are supported on multiple channels of engagement such as web, voice, digital, email, and more. However, this is only part of the customer experience as consumers expect these channels to be accessible and synchronised within a single interaction.

Although the overall experience may be made up of individual touch points, these need to seamlessly connect, allowing customers to pick up where they left off at any point.

5. Getting the right technology in place

Finally, one of the biggest challenges that utilities and telecoms businesses face when it comes to customer-centricity is getting the right technology in place to make this possible.

Pretty much everything we’ve discussed in this article, from collecting data to providing an omnichannel experience, requires the right technology and tools. Although it might mean putting new teams, processes, or systems in place, as well as investing money and resources into new tools, it is crucial that organisations are willing to do this.

Otherwise, they might find themselves losing customers and falling behind the competition.

If you’d like to know more about how you can build a 360° view of your customers in your business, you can check out our comprehensive guide here.

Further reading

Sitecore

Sitecore is a global leader in digital experience management software that combines content management, commerce, and customer insights. The Sitecore Experience Cloud™ empowers marketers to deliver personalized content in real time and at scale across every channel—before, during, and after a sale. More than 5,200 brands—including American Express, Carnival Cruise Lines, Kimberly-Clark, and L’Oréal—have trusted Sitecore to deliver the personalized interactions that delight audiences, build loyalty, and drive revenue. 

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