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Utilities CX

Podcast #9: Transforming Utility CX

Jon Lunitz interviews Mark Wilkinson, Senior Vice President - Products at ibex Digital

The Best Bits

Jon introduces Mark Wilkinson, SVP - Products for ibex Digital, as they discuss the digital transformation happening in the Utilities space, and the technologies helping forward-looking Utilities brands better engage and retain their customers. If you didn't get a chance to listen to the full interview, below are the best bits, selected just for you.

  • Mark Wilkinson: Utilities are an interesting industry - they're regulated by public commissions, publicly elected officers of these big public utilities commissions, who set the rate for what they can charge for a therm of gas or a kilowatt hour of electricity and then they're told, 'Oh by the way, we want you to teach your customer how to use less of the product'.
  • Mark: Our focus has been to help them use the information that they already have at their disposal and the assets that most brands would kill for, like a high email open rate or a trusted website and a good reputation in the market, to try to make incremental change because they're just flooded. And COVID didn't help the situation because a lot of those companies went from having 5 or 8 percent of their accounts being out of trust or behind to maybe as many as 30 and 40 percent in some markets, where customers are behind on their bills because of unemployment related to COVID, so they don't know what to do.
  • Mark: Our team kicks in and helps them set up ecommerce sites and different designs for their digital experiences so that they're much more modern and customer-focused.
  • Mark: Omni-channel is a scary term - what we try to advise our customers is let's just do a little bit at a time. Let's make sure that whatever you send out via email is also reflected on your website and your customer care can have the same information. Because we don't care how a customer reconnects, we just want to make sure that they're getting a similar experience and so we're showing them incrementally how they can be a little bit more multi-channel in their approach with customers.
  • Jon Lunitz: So it sounds as if you're trying to maintain a bit more hollistic approach - from all of the different contact points are integrated and you're also providing a similar, at least similar information across the journey, in which then the customers can now engage and also maybe actually have some type of brand recognition into what an industry, I guess traditionally would be what - a monopoly or an oligopoly, so that they have some kind of connection to their power utility company. 
  • Mark: We just hope those companies leapfrog a couple of decades of technology and best practices because you don't have to learn everything all at once - if you got good partners you can jump ahead some of the evolution of customer engagement.
  • Mark: Think about the last time you've moved - you've probably had to make big decisions, big dollars in a chaotic period of time. If a power company or a water or gas company can help a new customer just smooth out that landing, that flight path or glide path to land in their new residence, it creates such an amazing first time experience. That customer now will probably be on their website a little bit more frequently, they'll definitely open and take seriously any emails or future communications. They're more likely to buy more things from them or take a promotion or a recommendation from them. We want to help the Utilities define themselves more from that first experience on to really jazz up the lifecycle.
  • Mark: We've got an enterprise class solution called RefleCX. It's been very, very successful in the automotive industry with more than 20 million surveys served up annually to automotive customers and we're adapting a whole solution package for RefleCX into the Utility industry.
  • Mark: What RefleCX is really good at for the Utility is taking critical moments of the lifecycle - so right after the first experience, the first time they do an electric bill, an online bill payment. The first time they call customer care or have an outage or visit the ecommerce store or click on an email offer, we can instrument each of those milestones and collect in a quick targeted survey, 3 to 5 questions - we can collect really important feedback that gives us actionable intelligence directly from the customer that says what they liked, what they didn't, and we can index all of it, score all of it to help an executive understand where to put their resources.
  • Jon: It's not just to give the Utility company some insights, but it's actually to build that relationship with that customer.
  • Mark: I'd like to learn more about, just in general, how technology and services have merged to provide a better view of managing the entire customer experience. I think that's a topic that we've got a lot of expertise on - that would be great to get the word out. 



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