Social customer care: a service evolution

By Allison Herdic, Industry Researcher –

When the lights go out or a bill question arises, customer no longer turn solely to the utility’s call center or even the company’s website. Increasingly, customers are utilizing social channels such as Twitter and Facebook to seek answers to inquiries or find a listening ear. As this movement progresses, the industry is working unceasingly to serve an evolving customer base.

In other words, this isn’t your grandma’s utility industry anymore.

Chartwell defines social customer care as providing traditional customer service (responding to inquiries or complaints, solving customer problems, etc.) exclusively within the context of social media channels. According to Chartwell’s recent Social Customer Care survey of 33 North American utilities, the new frontier of serving customers is being largely embraced, with 85% of respondents reporting the provision of social customer care. For those in the “currently not” category, most indicated plans to begin an initiative within the year.

While Chartwell published its Industry Benchmarks report earlier this year to showcase Social Customer Care survey highlights, our new Trends and Opportunities analysis is now also available on Chartwell’s EnergyLibrary. The analysis provides a more in-depth look at a number of utilities’ social customer care strategies, and includes details on various operational facets such as staffing and response times.

The analysis also details how some utilities are using social customer care as a proactive customer engagement tool. At Southern California Edison, for example, social customer care has “matured to where customers know they can come to us for billing and outage information,” said Nancy Rodriguez Casanova, digital information architect. “We use social media to build relationships with our customers before the lights go out.”

Whether your utility is navigating uncharted waters, or moving on to the next phase of your strategy, Chartwell’s Social Customer Care Trends and Opportunities analysis offers your organization a more in-depth look at how peer utilities are staffing these channels and aspiring to advance their relationships with customers through social media.

And, as Chartwell researchers thrive on bringing you the industry’s latest trends and success stories, please thoughtfully consider participating in Chartwell’s surveys to continue this momentum of valuable insight delivery. For more information on our surveys or opportunities to participate, feel free to contact Chartwell’s Research Manager, Suzanne Haggerty.

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