In the industry we are seeing an increasing shift towards a more qualitative approach to customer service and with more vulnerable customers, this relies on understanding what they want and collating their feedback in a fashion not too dissimilar from any other group of customers – namely making it very simple and easy to provide their own view in their own words.
Delivering better customer service starts with understanding the customer’s requirements, critically analysing those needs and wants and matching that with one’s capabilities to deliver. This is true in any industry.
In utilities it becomes critical to do so in as brief and simple a way as possible as rarely do customers want to have to contact their energy provider, let alone answer extensive surveys. If we can extract the qualitative information from them in as short an interaction as possible, we have a better chance of capturing that more frequently across a wider group of consumers.
The idea of moving towards a “census” approach rather than a “survey” is currently sitting well with utilities as it affords a real-time perspective on how the service (meter-read, bill review, debt conversation, technical query) has been delivered. In turn, this provides the opportunity to “recover” the prospect or customer quicker thereby reducing down-stream issues related to problem resolution and apathy.
What is of, possibly, greater significance is the positive impact real-time feedback has on the staff delivering these services, especially at the frontline. By viewing feedback on very recent interactions, a stronger bond is created between the agent and the customer.
Not only does the customer express their emotions more accurately (apathy is reduced) but the frontline agent can remember more clearly and, most importantly, recognise how to improve on the next interaction. This is invaluable in improving empathy towards the customer base quicker, engaging the staff member in the delivery of the service leading to a likely increase in customer satisfaction and the resultant benefits.
A by-product of this is also to reduce training and hiring costs, as good feedback solutions can identify what it is about your staff customers like. With these insights you can focus on developing the positives, mitigating the negatives and hiring more of the types of people who exhibit the relevant traits.
Not only will the customer benefit but the company should benefit too partly as a result of exposing feedback to their staff members and gamifying the environment so all staff understand the positivity of aspiring to be the best in their role.