In our years of experience designing, developing and deploying our own customer self-service portal, the Milestone team has experienced first-hand a utility’s challenges when demonstrating value from the investment. If your utility already offers a form of customer self-service, you may have seen that the true ROI is achieved only when customers use the portal, not simply once deployed.

Now utility customer service managers are tasked with the job of having customers log-in and actually use the portal and mobile app to demonstrate ROI. A 2010 Accenture survey cites the average utility end customer spends no more than 9 minutes per year interacting with their utility. With such low benchmarked engagement, utilities have a real challenge motivating customers to not only engage, but also act.

To help utilities demonstrate value, here are three tips to encourage the most successful and effective customer self-service portal delivering a positive customer experience.

1. Focus on the Responsive User Interface (UI) and User Experience (UX)

According to Smart Insights, the average consumer owns 3.64 devices. This combined with Pew Research’s findings that 36% of consumers own a desktop, a tablet and a smart phone means a customer portal must be adaptable to various devices and Internet browsers.

A clean, familiar design is one piece of the puzzle. Purposeful consideration of the customer’s log-in experience – and making this as user-friendly as possible – is another important aspect. Creating an online portal that only requires a few “clicks” to complete a transaction is yet another.

Delivering the same experience across all devices and platforms is crucial. For the customer at work when he or she realizes their payment is due that day, the experience logging in through a browser on a smart phone should be similar to the experience they have when at home and logging in through a personal desktop computer.

2. Pay Attention to Page Load Times

Have you ever found yourself abandoning a website when a page wouldn’t load? It probably seemed as though the delay lasted for several minutes, when in fact in could have only been a few seconds. According to Kissmetrics, 47% of consumers leave a website if the page doesn’t load within two seconds. This tells us if we want a utility customer to use the portal, it needs to consistently load in about one second.

3.Prevent Mobile App Abandonment Prior to Deployment

Localytics states a staggering 75% of registered mobile app users stop using an app within the first 90 days. This tell us accessing the portal through a browser must provide a positive customer journey to acquire and retain the maximum number of customers possible. A unified, omni-channel communication plan to remind registered users of the benefits of using the portal is another important component for any customer self-service portal launch.

Finally, a native mobile app may be preferred for millennials, which can only be truly understood with audience segmentation and data analytics and assessment of engagement. To learn more about tips and tricks to keep utility customers engaged and active with your utility, sign-up for our quarterly eNews Brief.

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