How utility businesses can develop effective CX that packs a punch

14th January 2022

2021 was a turbulent year for energy companies, with several going into administration, so there’s never been a more crucial time for these businesses to impress and retain their customers. As 2022 begins, we take a look at which utility companies came out of 2021 on top, and some ways those flagging behind can shake up their customer experience (CX) strategy for 2022.


Who’s on top?

According to Which? the top two energy companies were Outfox the Market and Octopus Energy, with Octopus receiving a Which? recommendation. Both these companies scored well in bill clarity, bill accuracy and customer service. They also boasted a lower number of complaints and a shorter wait time for calls, plus quick responses to email/chat. And reviews from customers on Trustpilot echoed these sentiments, with praise being given to their quick response and how they resolve issues quickly. In addition, Octopus’ ‘wheel of fortune’ feature encouraged customers to provide readings monthly so they could spin the wheel and be in with a chance of getting money off their bill.

On the flipside, Which? found that a number of companies struggled with their customer service, with feedback including a high volume of complaints, poor complaint handling, and low scores for customer service, bill accuracy and clarity. See who ranked where in the full Which? report

After we spoke to a small section of customers from the top and bottom companies, those who had encountered issues, were mainly in relation to incorrect billing. The feedback was that they found this quite frustrating to resolve and in the main had to calculate the bill themselves and make numerous calls to get things resolved. Understandably customers found this frustrating, with it causing anxiety and stress in some cases.

One thing is clear: It’s time to do better.

Here’s our top tips for achieving seriously effective CX in 2022:

Tread carefully with KPIs

There are sometimes unintended consequences from setting your KPIs. For example, just focusing on reducing AHT could negatively impact the quality of calls with your customers. It could drive staff behaviour to simply ‘get rid’ of customers in order to meet their targets. Instead try identifying the root cause of your AHT problems. Is it that more staff training is required? Is it because your agent is holding the call up somehow? Or is it something completely different altogether? Make sure your staff KPIs are set to ultimately benefit, not hinder, the customer experience.

Your data is your secret weapon

You only have to look at the likes of Netflix, Amazon, and Spotify to see that unlocking customer data is the key to great CX. Savvy businesses are using their data to help identify and understand the root cause of customer issues – and then take action fast. ContactBabel’s report The Inner Circle Guide to Customer Engagement and Personalization found that 60% of organisations are not using speech analytics, despite 90% of those that do saying it’s effective. It’s not necessarily about big data but tapping into the insight you have right at your fingertips.

Use complaints as an opportunity

No one wants to have to deal with complaints and the hefty fines that can sometimes come along with them. It’s best to handle complaints made against your organisation as quickly as possible – investigate them, take action and then reach a solution. But it’s not just about being reactive as complaints come in. You should proactively use your complaint data to futureproof your business – shielding it from large fines, customer loss and a damaged reputation.

Monitor your customer calls

Understanding why your customers are contacting you is paramount. Manually sampling calls, can pick up certain training or quality issues, but can be time consuming and only gives you a slice of the insight – but you need the whole pie. Monitoring calls can be a time-consuming task, driven by how the QA team perceives the call. You need to automate the process, so you are reviewing 100% of your calls, efficiently. This can be done by using speech to text analytics to score your calls and provide an overall insight of how your agents are treating your customers.

Make everything easy for customers

From not being able to locate your business’ contact details online to being held in long call queues – there are many reasons customers can already feel frustrated before they even interact with your company. It’s your job to make sure customers have access to all the information they need, a range of efficient communication channels available to them, and the ability to pivot between touchpoints seamlessly. Take the time to truly understand your customer journey from end to end, so you can start to understand where the bottlenecks are and how to fix them.

Cultural change that actually makes a mark

Changing the culture in any business can be like wading through treacle. Where do you start? And how can you make actual change happen? Whether they realise it or not, everyone in your business has some level of impact on the customer, even if they are not directly customer facing – and it’s the job of your organisation’s leaders to help employees buy into the values and understand the role they play. Creating a customer-centric culture can be achieved with employee engagement programmes, KPIs, learning and development strategy and making valuable process improvements.

Kick start 2022 focused on creating robust, effective and memorable CX and you may find your organisation comes out on top by the close of the year.

If you are looking for more advice on how to improve CX in your business, please get in touch – we’d love to chat.

Lee Mostari
Director of Insight and Analytics


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