Just 16% of senior decision-makers working for UK utilities rank ‘optimising customer experience’ among the top business drivers for the adoption of enterprise software systems.
This is according to new research commissioned by IFS, polling 100 senior decision-makers at large utilities companies across the country.
This lack of focus on the customer experiences comes at a time when UK residents are facing a mounting cost of living crisis, driving customers to look to providers for guidance and assistance more than ever. In turn, this is likely to be placing increasing pressures on customer service functions across firms.
More positively, over three-quarters (76%) of utilities firms are now underway with automating customer experience at their organisation, even if just 26% in total are already seeing the value from their efforts and 24% of the sample are still at the earlier point of building a business case. This automation can take on various forms, but for 70% of respondents, virtual assistants were cited as being important to their digital transformation strategy, whilst a further 74% said the same of chatbots.
Simon Orchard, industry architect, Energy, Utilities and Resources, IFS, said: With the current cost of living crisis continuing to ramp up, engaging positively with customers and serving their needs more quickly and efficiently has never been more important. Technology should have role to play in automating service delivery for routine enquiries, while freeing up time for utilities to deal with more complex or emotional queries, human to human.”
Orchard continues, “It is also true that customer service teams have been stretched to the limit through the last couple of years, and the cost -of-living crisis is only going to exacerbate that. Utility businesses therefore need to be clever about what they are automating to ensure human employees are adding value where calls are complex or where patients may be vulnerable and needing extra support, while the majority of customers are getting served quickly and efficiently through automated systems.”
Moreover, further driving customer engagement, 72% either already offer, or plan to in the future, an energy rebate programme for new sustainable assets such as solar panels, battery storage, EV charging, wind turbines and hydroelectric power.
According to Orchard: “More people are going to need to make use of this kind of programme as the government rolls out new sustainability policies. So, having technology in place to scale this kind of service is also likely to be key moving forwards.”
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