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If we look at the demographic of people who are customers of a utility company we see it covers everyone from generation Y up to centenarian’s, and I am only speaking about the people who are the account holders and paying the bills, not the actual users. Die to this bread demographic spectrum of their customers utility companies facing a complex challenge; how can they communicate with these customers ensuring that each individual is targeted the most effective eat while at the same time being cost efficient. In a time where we as consumers are overloaded with information from an ever increasing number of sources and thru multiple channels only information that’s stands out, is provided to us thru our preferred media and specifically aimed at our current needs will find its target. Other information is at risk to be lost in the general noise.

Le’s relate this to a simple but important utility process: the handling of an overdue bill. If the message that a bill is overdue is not received and acted on by the intended receiver it could lead to costly collections and even disconnections. Therefore it is in the interest of both the utility company and the utility user that the message is received and acted on. However expectations on the customer side vary widely on what the best way would be to receive such information.

Generation Y maybe expecting an alert on their mobile apps or thru social media that they have missed a payment and that their utility bill is now due, a middle age family man would be looking for an email reminder from the utility company, a 65 year old pensioner maybe sees a call from a friendly agent as the best way to remind him, while a 80 year old grand-mother would be best serve with a nice letter from the utility company written in LARGE FRONT. As for the grandmother, maybe an additional alert to her 20 year old niece would be an alternative!

In my opinion utility companies need to do two things to provide additional service to ensure their customer will stay loyal. First they need to put in place effective communications with their customer around standard processes, this should not be a problem with today’s technology, however it would be good to hear ideas on how utility companies can improve this basic level of communication with their customers using technologies such as call centers, social media and mobile applications. The second thing is harder, utility companies need to figure out how to use communication to bind customer closer to them and creating a stickiness that ensures their users turn into loyal customers for love. An example could be to use real-times smart meter information to detect the usage at the 80 year old grandmother’s house is abnormal high at midnight and use that information to have a call center agent give her a call to check up on her to see if she is okay, maybe she left the tv on or the fridge door open. How do you see utility companies using communication to provide a world class service to their customers in the future?

meet me at the “SAP Asia Pacific Conference for Utilities 2014” at the Demo and Showcase Center for my demonstration about the “SAP Contact Center” on Wednesday, May 21st, from 4pm onwards

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