Utilities race to meet changing customer expectations, maintain reliability

Solutions to enable two-way communication with consumers remains an industry challenge for utilities due to integration challenges and a lack of customer service strategy

About 40 percent of utility employees say their utility will add major new functionality to their existing CIS/CRM system, according to a survey of 20,000 utility employees conducted by Bridge Energy Group. Another 37 percent plan to completely replace their existing CIS/CRM

The supply of skilled, knowledgeable staff and system integration challenges are the two biggest obstacles to implementing CIS, according to the survey. A full 76 percent of those polled agreed with this estimation.

A majority of utilities recognize that customers want more in terms of clear, two-way communication on outages, rate increases and billing issues, however, very few utilities (9 percent) have a complete, integrated view of each customer in order to analyze the information and deliver on those expectations.

Additionally, with 69 percent planning to increase their focus on improving customer experience, they will face various organizational obstacles including a lack of customer experience strategy, budgets, processes and technology.

Utilities were clear throughout survey responses that customers want bi-directional communication across a broad variety of mediums including text, social media and web site. The survey revealed that the current project initiatives — including the continued deployment of smart meters, completing AMI rollouts and grid automation, and expanding the use of demand management and other energy efficiency programs — are leading the charge in upcoming project work that will empower customers to save energy and money.

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