Today’s business world is made up of different industries with different business models. But successful businesses no matter the industry have one thing in common: Passionate customer advocate groups that deliver customer experiences that competitors just can’t match. This is one of the biggest reasons these businesses are leaders within their industries. Happy customers equal not only repeat business, but they will promote it to friends, colleagues and family.
One would think that the recipe is rather simple. Make a commitment to deliver superior customer service to turn any straggler into a fierce competitor. But emulating great customer experience is a long road for companies who have neglected their customers for years.
And after recent research by Ofgem, the regulator’s chief executive has sent letter to the ‘big 6’ energy companies and smaller independent suppliers about the ‘industry-wide failure’ to handle complaints to an acceptable standard.
The regulator said that many customers are responding to suppliers’ poor service by switching to a different supplier with staggering statistics showing almost one and two customers having already switched or are planning to do so as a result of customer service experience.
But why does the journey to a great customer service strategy seem so mysterious when energy companies are involved?
Working 9-5pm, ‘the computer says no’ mentality, no longer has a place in today’s 24/7/365 fast paced world, where customers expect constant support. Maybe the energy companies can learn something from the water service industry, whom we have helped to address the key issues we believe to be offering a consistent customer service across all customer contact channels.
So what considerations do we think need to be made when energy companies revise their customer service delivery strategy?
1. The technology in place to support contact centre staff:
- Will customers calling out-of-hours receive a poorer quality of customer service and is their another channel by which they could answer their queries?
- Are all contact centre staff are up-to-date with the latest information and how is this maintained through technology?
- When staff shifts change, does it affect the transferal of knowledge – how is this communicated?
2. Out of office customer enquiries:
- Should phone lines only be open 8 hours per day – are customers able to self-serve answers to their questions quickly and easily through the website or other channels?
- Do the majority of customers need support during work hours or do they frequently require assistance out of office hours?
3. The most effective/popular/convenient contact channels for customers:
- The contact centre is only one contact channel available for customers – dependent on the nature of the enquiry, would it benefit the company and customers to handle enquiries across other channels like the web, mobile, e-mail and social platforms?
4. Customer feedback and complaints?
- Quickly and efficiently responding across contact channels to customer queries is key – is there a mechanism in place to monitor customer feedback to improve the quality of products and services and level of response in the future?
Delivering a high quality round-the-clock customer service isn’t easy, but the rewards can be substantial. However without the right technology in place to support customer service delivery, organisations will continue to fail, to meet or exceed their customer’s expectations.