Pressure is mounting on Britain’s power companies as calls for ministers to hit electricity generators with a windfall tax grow ever louder amid the soaring cost of living crisis. With domestic energy bills expected to jump more than 40% and fears that 30-40% of households could end up in fuel poverty in the coming winter, energy companies cannot ignore the pivotal role they play in supporting the nation through these stormy times.
With turbulent market conditions and a swathe of anxious, vulnerable customers trying to get clarity on their bills, energy companies’ service standards are falling to a record low. Now more than ever, energy companies must realise the value good customer experience (CX), powered by cloud-native technologies, can bring – both to their business’ bottom line and their customers.
Energy companies must act now
We are only just at the start of the cost of living crisis, and with a recession likely on the horizon, the volume of customers trying to contact their energy suppliers is only going to rise further. Energy companies must act now. They need to turn their contact centres into value centres, before it is too late and the scales of declining customer service standards and the need for support from energy companies fall too far out of balance.
As the energy crisis worsens, familiarity and empathy have become even more important, and with customers looking for reassurance and support, these interactions need to be more than just a front of positivity. They need to be authentic. The need for customers to have their voices heard and their questions answered has led to an increase in both phone interactions with agents as well as a necessity for quick and easily accessible sources of information in the form of FAQs, and updated webpages, and complex AI chatbot functions.
The autonomous and meaningful customer experience
Cloud contact centre solutions can make astronomical differences to the customer experience, by keeping track of every interaction they have across various channels, as well as recording information relevant to their account and needs. The ability to do those things while providing a responsive and reactive customer experience based upon the information provided is what creates meaningful CX.
In difficult times, customers will try a wide range of channels to interact with their energy suppliers. In order to deal with this influx in demand, energy companies should provide customers with a variety of autonomous services, such as FAQs, natural language processing (NLP), interactive voice response (IVR), and bots. Harnessing automation in this way will help bring customers the accurate answers they need at speed.
How to future-proof in the face of uncertainty
Energy companies, whether they are aware of it or not, sit on a treasure trove of data that goes unused. By harnessing cloud-native technologies they can uncover the true value of CX in order to provide the service their customers desperately seek, which will also ultimately feed their net income. As well as taking the next steps in merging the spheres of human and AI interactions.
Moving to the cloud has become almost indispensable, enabling companies to become more agile and reactive in real-time. Energy companies need to seriously consider making use of cloud-based solutions because the ROI of cloud-based CX software is 4.01 times higher than its on-premise counterparts. By harnessing the potential of cloud contact centre solutions, companies can better share their data internally which greatly simplifies the flow of relevant information to their agents so they can deliver meaningful service to customers.
In challenging situations, the last thing customers want is to be kept waiting too long or to finally reach an agent, only to realise that none of the information they have given so far has been passed on to the person on the other end of the line. By utilising cloud technologies, the potential impact of Natural Language Processing (NPL) – identifying keywords and sentiment in verbal and written customer interactions – can be maximised. The time needed to process the inputted data by customers is reduced and they can receive a much quicker response containing the information they require, based on the information given. The adoption of these technologies can also significantly reduce the additional stress placed on agents and free up their time in order to prioritise those customers most in need of speaking to an agent. While also allows AI to reactively, in real-time, to assist other customers with their needs.
With the current crisis, an overwhelming number of cash-strapped consumers need greater support from their suppliers than before, leaving energy companies to provide reassurance – through efficient CX – in the middle of a very turbulent time. While managing the increased stress on contact centres, energy companies need to simultaneously re-evaluate the quality of their processes, to retain high CX, by considering cloud migration to meet the increasing needs of their customers.