Each year, our company hosts a conference for utility communicators looking for new and better ways to tell their company’s story. One year, our keynote speaker asked us to think of a story where we received truly over-the-top customer service — service worth bragging about.
It was a difficult task for many in the audience, and several had to go back a few years to be able to tell their story. Why is that? We interact with dozens of businesses a week, but thinking of a single wonderful interaction can be difficult.
The truth is, the bar for adequate customer service is often so low that we’ve been trained to simply expect less. It’s commonplace now: No one smiled or said “thank you” at the bank, the airline moved your flight to the next day while you were already at the airport, or the hotel double charged your credit card and didn’t even apologize when you had to call them to point out the error.
As a telecommunications company or electric utility, your company should be one of the places people brag about. It can be a difficult task because you provide such an essential service to so many. And, customer service encompasses every single employee at your company, from the representative answering a billing question to the service crew explaining why they have to dig a trench.
To add to the difficulty, the world of customer service itself has changed dramatically over the past decade. Customer service is no longer just about interactions that your employees have during the work day. It’s about your website, your programs, and your social media presence.
While it’s easy to compare your company to other telcos or electric distributors in the area, that isn’t what your customers are doing. Instead, every interaction is compared to companies such as Apple, Amazon or Facebook. How easy it to sign up for Facebook? Takes about a minute. How easy is it to sign up for new service or your SmartHub program? If the answer is a lengthy in-office visit, what are some ways you can change that?
A J.D. Power 2017 customer satisfaction survey found that utilities are setting new standards for the service industry. People’s satisfaction with their service providers continues to rise, and communication and customer service are leading causes. Those who receive consistent communication about infrastructure, price changes and service outages were more satisfied than those who never heard your news through email, Facebook or text messages.
The world of customer service is changing, but the principles remain the same: Communication is key, and a commitment to providing over-the-top service will create fans who want to sign up for your services and who are excited about your mission.