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Customers move to self-serve in lockdown

Engagement trends in customer communication habits and how utility companies are responding to them will be discussed in the latest Utility Week webinar – along with advice and tips on managing agile multi-channel engagement efficiently.

Utility companies have seen a surge in the number of people looking to self-serve and set up online accounts during lockdown. This is one of the new customer engagement trends highlighted in a recent insight report and will be discussed in a free webinar.

The webinar, in association with Quadient, will take place on July 15 at 2.15-3pm

South East Water is one of the utility firms investing in technology that will make the process more convenient. “At the moment new customers might have to fill in an online form or ring up. What we’re putting in place is a system which will allow them to go online and create an account immediately and use it straight the way. They will also be able to do the same to close a bill,” explains Tanya Sephton, Customer Services Director, South East Water.

“And while we’re doing this, we’re also looking to communicate in greater detail their water usage to help us meet water efficiency targets.”

Sephton says that during the last eight weeks more customers have applied for online accounts so that now 20 per cent have them and 80 per cent receive posted out bills. In addition, phone calls are down by 20 per cent she says, while communication by email has increased by the same amount.

Like South East Water, Severn Trent has seen an increase of customers opting to self-serve during the lockdown. Says Hilary Bennett Director of Customer Service at Severn Trent: “We’ve seen about 500 customers a day who have signed up to our self-serve option, and that’s growing all the time, probably more so because of Covid-19.” She puts that down to the fact that although Severn Trent has kept its contact centre open as usual 24/7, many utilities haven’t, and an assumption has arisen amongst customers that they won’t be able to get through on the phone.

Bennett thinks that the change in customer behaviour during the crisis will be permanent: “I think it will accelerate a desire in customers to self-serve and to experience that seamless interaction across all channels. People will make that switch and not go back.”

This webinar from Utility Week in association with Quadient, will explore how lockdown has changed the way customers want to communicate with utility suppliers with greater uptake of digital channels and on-line engagement.

Speakers for the event are:

Bill Wilson, Digital Channel Lead, Severn Trent and Stephanie Martin Customer Experience Project Manager, Bristol Water.

They will be joined by John Hoggard, a customer services expert with major US utilities who recently became global utilities lead at Quadient, talking about the best approach to harnessing technology to improve efficiencies and agile engagement gathered over his 25 years in the sector.

You can register here

You can download the insight report here