Utility customers going omnichannel
New research released from (24)7 the intuitive customer experience company, has revealed that UK consumers are increasingly using s omnichannel customer service – to communicate with their utility provider, with 92 per cent regularly using more than one channel.
The most popular channels for customer service communications were: Landline – 66 per cent; online – 50 per cent; mobile – 22 per cent; and live chat – 5 per cent according to the survey of 2,011 consumers conducted by the Leadership Factor firm on behalf of 7.
Around one in five of survey respondents admitted to getting frustrated when their utility firms do not know who they are or what their issue is, despite having communicated via another channel previously. Another one in five would expect utility firms to know what they want based on previous contact they have had with them. While many utilities offer mobile apps, only 5.6 per cent of respondents regularly used a downloaded customer service app on a smartphone or tablet.
”Omnichannel is becoming an important element of customer service in many industries, and utilities is no exception,” explained Mike Hughes, European MD at 7. “Utility firms hold enough data on their customers to understand and predict customer intent and enable them to move seamlessly across a variety of channels.”
UK consumers rate good customer service second only to price when selecting a utility. Three in ten people surveyed said that customer service was the most important factor. Despite this importance in customer service, four in ten consumers said that they were not happy with the customer service delivered by their current utility provider. A further 12 per cent admitted to changing utilities as a direct result of bad customer service.
“Good customer service is such a massive differentiator for consumers when selecting a utility so it stands to reason that providers can steal a march on rivals by investing in technology to dramatically improve their service levels,” said Hughes. “With more than one in ten consumers already having admitted to changing utilities directly because of bad service received, it is clear that utilities must start delivering the type of customer service that consumers in 2013 are demanding – fast, effective and via the channel most convenient to them, not the utility.”
UK consumers do not feel that social media is an effective medium for customer service from their utility provider, with just 7.2 per cent using Facebook and 3.7 per cent using Twitter to interact with their current utility. These figures more than doubled with 18-34 years old though, suggesting that social media is a customer service channel utilities should not neglect.