The mobile application has become an essential tool for Americans navigating the day-to-day. Almost 80 percent of smartphone users regularly download these convenient, pocket-sized programs, according to data from the Pew Research Center. Organizations across virtually every sector have embraced customer-facing mobile portals as a result. However, utility companies are lagging behind, Statista found. Only 20 percent of U.S. utilities offer fully functional customer applications with outage viewing and reporting, payment and usage inquiry features.
The reality is that service providers must join the mobile movement to successfully engage modern consumers – especially millennials and members of Generation Z. These individuals are what researchers call “digital natives,” meaning they have seamlessly integrated technology into their daily lives. Of course, customer applications not only benefit end users but also bolster the operational efficiency of the utilities that release them.
Meeting customer expectations
For decades, utilities have largely used the telephone to connect with their customers. Even today, they continue to focus their energy and resources on strengthening their dispatching capabilities. However, this communication channel is slowly but surely falling out of favor among consumers. Over the last six years, customer telephone activity has dropped off considerably, as many abandon the handset for the smartphone, according to data from Forrester Research. Why? People now place more value on their time.
Often, this translates directly to the bottom line. In fact, an estimated 73 percent of Americans believe organizations must facilitate effective time management to provide strong customer service. With this in mind, utilities would be smart to embrace mobile-ready platforms, as they provide easy-to-access outage reporting and account management tools that certainly meet the demands of time-conscious end users. Additionally, these tools offer alternative web-based communication channels that allow customers to easily contact service providers without picking up the phone.
“Only 20 percent of U.S. utilities offer fully functional customer applications.”
Easing the customer service burden
The kind of streamlined communication workflow mentioned above holds obvious benefits for utilities. First off, the alternative contact options that come with customer-facing mobile applications take the burden off of dispatchers, especially during outage events when home-office employees are normally inundated with calls. Secondly, these conduits offer new opportunities for utilities looking to send out service announcements. Instead of making numerous calls to warn patrons about possible interruptions or maintenance, employees can easily configure push notifications that populate on customer devices. This feature alone can drastically reduce call volumes and ease normally overwhelming back-end processes.
Improving overall service quality
When customers can effortlessly communicate with their service providers, service quality increases. End users can more easily report outages and offer the on-the-ground information crews need to quickly address service interruptions. Web-based billing features streamline the accounting process, allowing utilities to collaborate with customers to resolve payment issues.
Utility companies looking to improve their operations and meet customer expectations have no choice but to adopt mobile applications, as these tools continue to evolve into industry-standard must-haves. Are you ready to join the mobile-ready bandwagon and adopt a customer-facing application? Contact DataVoice. We offer robust mobile solutions with the potential to transform your operation. Our PowerPal mobile application includes account management and outage reporting features, along with cutting-edge communication options.
Connect with us today to learn more or schedule a cost-free demonstration.