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The utility industry must prepare for growing consumer feedback


Millennial consumers will contact companies as soon as there is a service problem.

Millennial consumers will contact companies as soon as there is a service problem.

Even businesses that have been in operation for years must be prepared for changes inspired by technology advances and a new generation of customers. The utility industry has to recognize that millennials – consumers born between the 1980’s and early 2000’s – make up a substantial segment of current and potential customers and have particular needs when it comes to consumer care.

When it comes to interacting with utility providers, millennials may do things a little differently than previous generations. A 2015 J.D. Power survey found millennial customers want to be more involved with making decisions about their energy usage. All businesses in the utility industry should expect and prepare for increased numbers of questions, complaints and overall engagements.

Millennials want to be informed
The new, younger generation of energy users want to ensure they’re making smart decisions. The J.D. Power utility marketing survey found millennials want information about possible plans, time-sensitive deals and online tools to help them weigh options. Consumers who felt they were informed on all opportunities reported 76 percent higher satisfaction rates overall.

Consumers seek out utility companies that market commitment to customer information and service, while avoiding options with unresponsive online resources. A previous J.D. Power survey found millennials are also more likely to speak up when energy service is interrupted or other problems arise, according to Smart CustomerService. During a three month period of study, millennials complained twice while baby boomers only did so 0.5 times on average.

“Millennials are more likely to speak up when energy service is interrupted.”

Suggested reasons for these trends include less available finances and convenient communication tools. Young people may just be starting out and want to make the most of their available capital. They’ll talk to businesses about the most affordable options, and they will not be patient when they pay for services they feel like they are not receiving. Modern communication trends like online social channels and mobile devices means millennials can reach out whenever and wherever.

Investing in customer service
As more consumers attempt communication with energy and other utility providers, businesses in the industry must reformat their existing practices to keep up with feedback. Energy Central shared the results of a survey of 200 utility company decision-makers that found the majority plans to make millennials their priority.

This means investing in the technology that millennials prefer, including fourth-generation network capabilities and mobiles devices. A little more than 50 percent of representatives said they wanted service agents to use tablets when meeting with customers. Many utility companies have the challenge of integrating in-person consumer interactions with feedback delivered to the customer care center. Less than 10 percent of businesses feel they offer seamless multichannel services.

To get a better understanding of what customers want and where their organization needs to adapt, almost 50 percent of businesses use customer service analytics. When companies want to make changes, they ensure new investment will perform as needed by referencing hard numbers on customer expectations and care agents performance metrics.

Third party options
Companies in the utility industry may need to look at their business with new eyes if they want to prepare for millennial audiences and huge bumps in feedback. Third party quality assurance monitoring provides organizations with suggestions and performance metrics designed with years of experience in care and the latest technology. An outside expert can see how each communication channel works together and where consumers might find difficulties.

Customer relationship management software provided by consultants can display these answers on a daily basis. With the right system, employees can see customer center analytics as they perform tasks and update records after each engagement.


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