Alterian at Utility Week Live 2017
I attended Utility Week Live as a guest to further understand the utilities sector, its challenges, and exactly where brands seem to be focusing their efforts to improve. As expected, there was a strong focus on customer experience—and, as a more specific subset of that, customer service.
IN THE CLOUD
Claire Thomas from Hitachi spoke about cloud technologies, discussing the benefits they bring and why she believes they should be adopted by utilities companies. Her primary reason for this? Cloud technologies can help with customer service! As she discussed social media, cloud-hosted CRMs, and more, I reflected that the idea of “the cloud” in and of itself has brought a new challenge to utilities companies. Across their organizations, from marketing, to IT, to support, these companies need a tool that adapts to this variety of channels at the same speed their consumers may be switching between them. Modern consumers demand a seamless customer experience, no matter where or when they interact with a brand.
WATER LAGS BEHIND
Claire Maher from Water2Business spoke about putting customer service at the heart of water companies. Similar to what Thomas was saying, Maher stressed the need to transform network data into maintenance information to minimize service disruptions. Combining data from operational control systems with data from enterprise IT systems into a single place and enabling real-time informed decision making can drastically improve customer service, and, by extension, overall customer experience.
Mobilizing this centralized data would also impact operational performance and maintain regulatory compliance—an excellent follow-up from from what Thomas talked about. One thing I’ve learned since working with the utility sector is that, from a customer service point of view, utility companies are way behind the times. Water companies in particular need to improve, and this is why CX is such a focus now (and has been for about 12-18 months).
Another talk that stuck out in my mind, “Managing Data in an Information-Driven World,” centered on brands needing to use the data they have on customers in the right way. Utility brands must ensure they have analytical talent in their businesses to bring purpose and action to data collection. They also need to integrate data cleansing activities into business as usual and allow customers to manage their own data through self-serve portals. The personalization of services supported by data analytics is the top trend that will change the call center in the next five years as self-service becomes more and more important.
EVERY CUSTOMER MATTERS
Utility Week Live 2017 proved to be an excellent two days, presenting some innovative concepts from connected drones to new poles made from less wood and only four different sizes to improve the network we all get our energy from. The core takeaway from the conference, though, is the need for brands to better interact with customers, often through customer service efforts, and the importance of using data to support overall customer experience. I’m looking forward to continuing discussions I have with utility companies in understanding what they want to do and how Alterian can help them, as we did for ScottishPower, organize and act upon their data to provide the best possible CX.