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There is a whole world of unknown about to come into the UK Utilities market following the significant price cap increase in April. This isn’t just limited to energy as consumers struggle with household bills across the board. Subsequently, water suppliers have already seen an uptick in customer contact and we expect to see this across the utilities sector in the coming months.

With skyrocketing prices on the horizon, it is more important than ever to support customers in order to reduce the impact. Utility providers need to look at how they can maximise current operations and introduce new methods of communication to support customers in the wake of the cost-of-living crisis.

Lessons from the pandemic

It will be no surprise that in the pandemic, support teams found themselves stretched thin — 75% of service professionals say that managing case volume has been more challenging during the pandemic. We expect to see a similar increase in customer contact now that many customers are faced with a huge increase in household bills which will cause stress and anxiety.

Utility companies need to proactively engage with its customers ahead of time to reduce any concerns but also encourage its customers to use other methods of contact.

Customer engagement is all about transparency, communication, and information. Proactively providing the information customers need ahead of time can reduce inbound calls, freeing up your customer service team to handle more complex issues.

Self-Service era

The pandemic has already shifted the way customers engage with their utility providers and new modes of communication have grown in the past two years. With the shift to hybrid working, consumers are more open to self-service applications such as using online chat functions and communicating via SMS.

Utility providers need to assess current communication methods and other applications they can add. They need to focus on guiding customers to the right tool for their issue/concern. The key for utility providers is to know when human interaction will be required.

Self-Service has become a critical phrase for the utilities sector to keep up with customer expectations. However, it is still relatively low-engagement at the moment. It is vital that in the next few months utilities organisations promote its communication channels so call centres aren’t overwhelmed.

Conclusion

Customer engagement is more important to get right now than ever before. With increasing debt challenges, the utilities sector needs to ensure they are engaged with their customers, not just responsive to issues and challenges.

 This is why collaboration across sectors within the Utilities should be promoted within organisations as learnings will help all keep the consumer impact and costs as low as possible.