Utilities enter a New World

By Sarah Welty, Research Analyst –

Is there a better day than Columbus Day to chart unknown territory?

Utility industry leaders did just that during Chartwell’s EMACS – The Customer Experience Conference 2013 last week. EMACS facilitated discussion among these leaders regarding the shifting relationship between the customer and his or her utility. This changing relationship can be as foreign and exciting as Columbus’ New World — and just as difficult to navigate.

To help traverse these rough seas, we’ve created a quick guide to a few of the popular words and phrases that emerged from these discussions:

Customers of the Future: Members of Generation Y or Z whose lifelong familiarity with mobile and web technologies shape their expectations of customer service modes and channels; this impending customer’s experience with his or her utility is already shaping industry approaches to technology and service practices.

The Customer’s Journey: The (sometimes-circuitous) route a customer takes through a customer service channel. For instance, a journey may include each requisite task in completing a bill payment through a utility’s website. A map of the customer’s journey helps a utility streamline customer interaction.

Touch points: Individual moments of interaction customers have that shape their perception of the utility, whether through social media, during a phone call or simply by interacting with a utility employee in an informal setting; as an aggregate, these touch points determine the customer’s opinion and, ultimately, satisfaction with a utility.

Predictive Modeling: Utilizing customer data from a variety of sources in order to better anticipate customer behavior; predictive modeling differs from propensity modeling in that propensity modeling scores the likelihood of a customer participating in a specific utility program.

Customer Analytics: The process through which data from customer behavior is used to help make key business decisions via market segmentation and predictive analytics; it can assist in direct marketing and customer relationship management.

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