Improving Customer Experience for Utility Companies

SoftClouds
7 min readFeb 16, 2023
What’s the Future of CX for the Utility Sector?

In 2022, utility companies were expected to spend $641 billion on customer experience (CX) technologies. 80% of utility customers value experience as much as products and services. 59% of customers say brands need to catch up with the human element of CX. With a global emphasis on reducing carbon emissions, utility and energy industries must improve customer experience to meet their goals. Clean energy projects are derailed when utilities need to incorporate customer input into the planning and execution of their initiatives.

Utility departments are interconnected, and CX is at the center. How a utility business engages with its customers impacts more than just support and affects everything from call centers to grid management. It’s essential to ensure the utility’s operations and grid planning departments have access to the same customer data and know how to use it to achieve their goals. Utilities can engage customers to become trusted advisors while supporting critical business operations.

CX platforms are an excellent resource for utilities to disperse customers’ data across departments. Still, as new developments unfold in the state of energy, it’s essential that utilities continually evaluate their current CX solution. Customers expect CX to grant mobile access to utility accounts with digital self-service, automated scheduling, and an effective customer feedback process. [1]

Utility Sector — CX Use Cases

CX Use Cases with Configure Price Quote (CPQ)

Energy providers with CPQ can reduce 50% of customer sales time. This solution enables rapid utility training for the sales force. Newly hired salespeople become productive more quickly through a guided selling process. CPQ automatically incorporates parts list revisions, pricing changes, discounts, and product modifications into configuration and sales quoting processes.Advantages of CPQ include reduced time to generate proposals, the ability to create personalized offers, empowered sales, accelerated pricing, and improved margins.

CPQ minimizes risk and maximizes the value of short product lifecycles. Protect and maximize margins on sales; ensure accurate, profitable pricing across multiple channels, languages, currencies, and time zones; lead to scalable, repeatable, and predictable revenue. Real-time response to dynamic markets provides centralized maintenance of price lists, product configuration rules, technical documentation, and warranty data. [2]

CX Use Cases with Oracle Field Service

Using Oracle Field Service simplifies workflows to improve first-time fix rates. A simple use case could be about a worker replacing water valves at a municipal building. Each valve requires specific instructions for proper replacement. The workflow considers the fixes, features, and functions. It guides workers through recommended steps to complete the job. After job completion, the field service utility worker updates in real time. This solution simplifies workflows to improve first-time fix rates. It avoids cobbled-together paperwork, lowers fuel expenses, and less time in the truck. Customers receive service faster, which improves satisfaction. Inventory review and management before arrival.

CX Use Cases with Oracle Intelligent Advisor

Oracle Intelligent Advisor (OIA) can help with personalized answers to customer questions. For instance, a large electricity provider has established a consistent UX across multiple communication channels. It provides extensive self-serve features and seamless integration with backend systems through the implementation of OIA. This results in increased traffic on the customer portal and reduces the number of queries to the call center. Advantages of OIA include reducing the time spent on the business processes for the call center team and reducing costs.

This solution is used for self-service or agent recommendation of household energy-saving techniques tailored to the customer’s energy usage and personalization. It enables service calculations, customer onboarding, and self-service customer inquiries using a large quantum of data generated from smart meters and smart grids for innovative grid management. It offers highly distributed and scalable computing resources to host smart grid applications.

OIA enables customer service agents to view customer data in one view. It allows customers to submit service inquiries, schedule appointments, and manage their accounts online. It also enables utility companies to provide personalized experiences by automating everyday customer service tasks.

CX Use Cases with Knowledge Management (KM)

For employee onboarding, Knowledge Management (KM) platforms provide quick guides to new hires to speed up their knowledge and onboarding. They are ensuring that every employee is level set from the first day. From the agent’s perspective, KM improves customer support by reducing the time spent searching for answers to customer queries. Employee morale is enhanced as agents spend less time reinventing the wheel. From the customer’s perspective, self-service helps them resolve issues independently, available 24×7. Nicely curated documents, articles, and FAQs help customers know you, as a brand, care about their problems.

There are several advantages of using KM, such as providing service agents with relevant and accurate information based on customer queries. It establishes a central repository of documents, reports, and other relevant data. OKM enhances collaboration between teams, agents, and customers by leveraging KM to quickly access, share, and store data. It also reduces service costs and improves CX for customers.

CX Use Cases with Oracle Sales Cloud

Oracle Sales Cloud builds personalized online buyer experiences to generate sales. It helps commercial teams to sell beyond the commodity. Implementing predictive analytics to forecast energy and water usage demand and automating customer segmentation and targeting for energy and water sales. The benefits of this solution include utilizing customer data to personalize sales offers, monitoring energy and water usage to reduce operational costs, transforming insights into sales, and boosting customer value.

SoftClouds Utility CX Implementations

Example 1

The client is a Fortune 1000 public utility based in Portland, Oregon, that engages in the generation, wholesale purchase, transmission, distribution, and retail sale of electricity. This vertically integrated energy company has total utility plant assets of $12.15 billion and retail revenues of $2.08 billion. By 2050, it’s targeting to be 80% carbon-free.

The challenges faced by the client include having an outdated knowledge management platform with inefficient business process flow, complex workflow management, and limited knowledge management functionality. This platform provides very minimal reporting, analytics, and search capabilities. Integration with the legacy system wasn’t easy; it hasn’t been upgraded since 2018. It has limited features and support without extensibility towards the future, like an intelligent advisor, digital assistant, self-service, or call center rerouting.

CX was improved by providing faster access to customer data with a personalized web UI/UX that reduces clicks and is available 24×7. The client now has unified, structured content with branding guidelines; automated migration with 95% of articles migrated from Verint to OSvC; improved search — advisors can quickly access data from multiple channels. IT specialists removed manual formatting with standardized templates; content rendering was easy with OKA to C2M widgets. They integrated business Intelligence that supports knowledge-based operational decisions. The client can now access proactive and insightful analytics, customizable reports, and dashboards. [3,4]

Example 2

The client is an American investor-owned utility company that provides hydroelectric, nuclear, solar, and natural gas. Its assets are $103.33 billion, and its revenues are $20.06 billion. There are several business challenges, such as more manual overhead in the release management process, inefficient release process for parallel development, insufficient frequency release for quick deployments, no automated deployments or a standard approach to resolve merge conflicts for multiple teams, and common release calendar maintenance issues.

By improving its release management process, the client consolidated its release plan with a well-established cadence and streamlined deployments with automated processes, which helped project teams for better releases. Also, integration with ALM systems provides the accurate date of release items and improves the quality of delivering solutions on time for efficient parallel deployments. This new process improved regular refresh, backup cycle, and data replication.

Example 3

The client is a public utility and vertically integrated energy company based in New York. It engages in the generation, wholesale purchase, transmission, distribution, and retail sale of electricity. Its total assets are $63.11 billion, and revenues are $13.06 billion. By 2030, the client plans to provide 100% clean power for its facilities.

Previously, the client had an outdated knowledge management (KM) platform that used SharePoint, and customer assistance employees didn’t have an easy way to access data. They had an inefficient business process flow with complex workflow management. This platform had limited KM functionality with very minimal reporting and analytics capabilities. It provided a poor search experience, and integration with CC&B wasn’t possible. Employees had to look for data in multiple applications.

After implementing a KM platform, employees had access to a single source of knowledge for the entire organization. Relevant content is displayed based on a user profile, and advisors can quickly access data from multiple channels. Knowledge-based operational decisions improved ROI and content rendering with new widgets and increased user adoption and productivity. [3,4]

Future of CX for Utilities

Utility companies are using several innovative CX technologies, such as self-service customer portals that create a customer-centric business model for improved personalization. Data-driven experiences are also made using sensors, smart meters, and analytics to view real-time and historical consumption and receive usage and outage alerts. Artificial intelligence (AI) facilitates missions for achieving smart/clean-city initiatives and net-zero commitments. Virtual assistants (VA) use smart appliances and AI technology to manage energy use; combine customer habits with external data, such as weather. Predictive analytics reduce outages and maintenance costs to improve demand response by using real-time data analytics.

Beyond electricity uses blockchain, real-time demand response, and Internet of Things (IoT) technology. It improves sales, installation, and maintenance of solar, storage, microgrids, and EV chargers to achieve net zero energy. IoT offers better security, consumer-side analytics, remote surveillance, asset management, workforce, resource, and infrastructure.

Extended reality (ER) boosts operational efficiency, improves customer service, shortens repair times, and reduces training expenses. Digital twins allow utilities to plan, execute and optimize daily operations visually. Drone technology helps companies quickly inspect, monitor, and maintain utility assets. Peer-to-peer transactions are improved with machine learning, regulation, and market structure. New revenue streams are generated, and power grids are balanced to optimize supplies.

Rene Varro, Marketing Director at SoftClouds, wrote this article. She has nearly a decade of work experience in marketing for global high-tech companies. Rene has strong creative and technical writing capabilities and data analytics expertise. She previously worked as a Technical Writer in the engineering departments at several high-tech companies.

SoftClouds is a CRM, CX, and IT solutions provider based in San Diego, California. As technology trends are proliferating, organizations need to re-focus and align with the new waves to keep pace with the changing trends and technology. The professionals at SoftClouds are here to help you capture these changes through innovation and reach new heights.

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SoftClouds

SoftClouds | IT, Cloud, CRM & CX Solutions Provider.