In today’s technologically advanced world, companies are expected to surpass a simple connection with their customers. Instead, they must endeavor to grow their customer engagement at a deeper level though more personal and tailored communication. Standardized and clearly automatic bot communications are viewed as impersonal and not engaging, while messages that add personalization tokens and tailored responses show an effort to build the customer relationship.
Engagement adds value to the customer. Customers are more likely to have a favorable opinion of brands and companies they feel more engaged with. These companies can make a simple difference in their customer relationships by personalizing customer service. When a customer reaches out to express an issue with your product or service, they will easily get frustrated with a cookie-cutter response that may not even address their issue. This problem gets worse when the customer follows up, and they receive no further response. At this point, the customer not only is dealing with a problem, but they also now feel like their concern is not being heard or addressed. Customer service needs to go past just connecting with the customer, and instead engaging them in a meaningful way.
Milestone eVolve: The Digital Customer Engagement Portal
Milestone built the eVolve Platform to help utilities engage with their customers, with each solution designed to meet a personalized need. Utilizing Milestone’s Integration Gateway, eVolve solutions can integrate with any third-party customer information system (CIS). This is a huge value-add to customers, as they are able to interact with core data in real-time. Here is how each Milestone eVolve product helps utilities build relationships with their customers:
With Milestone ePortal, customers are able to manage their account and enroll in different programs via the customer self-service portal. Utilities can create communication methods such as newsletters and programs that customers can enroll in. These newsletters and programs need to benefit the customer in some way. For example, a utility can create a newsletter on green energy, and customers interested can enroll to engage in the content.
The newest eVolve product, Milestone ePay, is our PCI Compliant and NACHA validated payment solution that provides next day funding. Real time account validation includes account and routing validation, positive balance, and negative check history. Reporting capabilities include detailed reporting by department, merchant account, payment type, refunds, voids, and disputes. Using Milestone’s extensive integration expertise, customers can use ePay to pay through the channel that works best for them, evolving the customer payment experience.
Customers are able to set communication preferences based on type (i.e. billing, usage, outages) and method (i.e. email, texts, calls). For example, if a specific customer prefers to receive billing updates via text, they can select these options via their ePortal account. If a customer selects these, they are more likely to engage with these alerts, and could possibly even pay their bill via this method. Giving the customer control of how they interact enables them to consume alerts by how they engage best.
Through eNeighbor, customers can compare their energy usage to that of their neighbors. This can encourage customers to conserve energy and engage in green practices related to their usage. With access to this data, customers also become educated on how they use energy.
Milestone’s administration console manages Milestone eVolve products while integrating with any CIS. Utilities control content in real time and update without IT support. Using real-time integrated analytics, utilities can adjust content and understand what engages their customers most. With regular analysis, utilities can develop a plan on how to continue engaging their customers.
eIVRConnect is an omnichannel cloud contact center specifically designed for the utility industry. Callers are able to make a payment, maintain their account, report outages/interruptions, enroll in programs, transfer service, or terminate service. Milestone’s IVR solution makes it easy for customers to engage with their utility via the phone. Because it is specifically designed for the utility industry, eIVRConnect’s call flows are designed to efficiently accomplish the purpose of the customer’s call.
eCSRConsole is an improved user interface for call center agents which lays on top of any CIS. Utilities can empower their agents to better serve customers by making their processes streamlined and efficient. When customers are better served by agents, they have a more pleasant customer experience with their utility.
The Milestone eVolve products were designed to improve the relationship between utilities and their customers. The solutions empower the utility to better serve their customers, while providing ways to make processes easy and efficient for the customer. Milestone has seen our clients succeed with the implementation of eVolve products, and we continue to find new ways to help utilities engage their customers.
In an article from Utility Dive, the author describes the need for interactive content:
“Research finds that interactive content boosts conversion rates by as much as 43%. Engaging content like quizzes, calculators, games and interactive infographics helps energy utilities to stand out from other brands vying for customers’ attention.”
By adding these forms of content, customers have access to more information, helping them understand how they use energy. Many examples of interactive content relate to energy conservation (i.e. green calculators), allowing customers to find ways to reduce their usage. Milestone eNeighbor is a great example of a tool that shows customers their energy usage compared to that of a green neighbor. When these customers understand ways to reduce usage, they engage with their utilities to accomplish their environmental goals.
Content should be visually appealing and easy for a customer to understand. Any marketing collateral, such as one-pagers or newsletters, should be easy to read and include content that illustrates the ideas being presented. These items can be visually appealing by using a consistent color scheme and readable fonts, along with an intuitive layout.
B2B Customer Engagement
It is necessary for B2B businesses to engage their business clients as well. Building relationships with clients is the key to engagement, and great partnerships thrive through communication. This communication should be open and frequent, as both sides learn how to improve the product or service. When the client knows their concerns are heard and acted on, they feel engaged with the business they are partnering with.
At Milestone, all of our eVolve products are the result of listening to our customers’ needs and understanding the problems the utility industry is facing. We have built these solutions to help solve the challenges our partners were facing, and we continue to listen to their needs as we update current products and develop new solutions.
To build relationships and increase satisfaction, utilities must commit to customer engagement. By first taking the time to understand what their customers want to see, a utility can develop content and resources that educate and satisfy the needs of the customer. Secondly, this content should not only be easy to use and access, but also be relevant, engaging, and interactive. Finally, customers need personal, straightforward, and productive ways of communicating with their utility that help solve issues effectively. In the end, taking the time to develop a plan for customer engagement is well worth the time.