Customer-Centric Utilities: Pioneering Innovation and Trust for A Better Customer Experience

At the UK’s most influential consumer-focused event, the Utility Week Customer Summit, Vyntelligence sponsored the Sustainable Energy strand where Louise Lanes, Head of Customer Experience at Northern Powergrid and a panel of experts from British Gas and Citizens Advice discussed improving attitudes towards smart technologies and increasing customer trust to achieve a 9.5+ CSAT score.

The topic stems from a growing concern across the industry where utilities are struggling to uphold a standard of trust against rising consumer expectations. With regular exposure to an amazon-style level of convenience, coupled with a growing mistrust of consumer brands, the slightest friction can lead the average consumer to relinquish trust with their utility.

Stuck with legacy systems and processes, utilities are now trying to reinvent the customer experience to deliver a service that recognises the customer as a person, not just a consumer. 

Heidi Mottram, CEO of Northumbrian Water Group set the scene with the first talk of the day stating customers don’t have a transaction with a brand, it’s a transaction with a person”. “We recognise”, she reminded the audience, that as a utility, “we’re a public service”. 

With the operative words being ‘public’ and ‘service’, there can be a confusion to address the public as a whole; to provide a service that fits and provides for everyone.

However, as Louise Lowes, Head of Customer Service at Northern Powergrid shared in a later session, the industry must think about “the whole-person energy approach”. An attentive customer service that accounts for the individual within the public and provides a tailored experience to their personal circumstances, with helpful initiatives, to support them.

Every customer wants attention. They want to feel listened to, like their needs are being cared for. The less effort a customer needs to exert to solve a problem, report an issue or get a quote, the more they trust that you understand their needs. 

The reason for the attentive care in delivering customer services and experiences was captured perfectly by Lynn Parker, Senior Director, Enforcement, Casework and Customers, Ofwat, sharing that once you start “losing trust”, it’s “hard to rebuild”; highlighting the need for a right-first-time culture.

The session concluded with a panel of experts comprising of: 

Baljit Dhillon, Change and Transformation Leader, British Gas 
Rachel Mills, Senior Policy Researcher, Citizens Advice 
Kapil Singhal, Co-founder and CEO, Vyntelligence

that shared insights on how we can improve attitudes towards smart technologies; increasing customer trust in new ideas and the companies delivering them. The three key takeaways from the discussion were as follows:

  1. Baljit shared that “customers today don’t like surprises.” They don’t like uncertainty either. Even more so when they can’t see a clear path for where their money is going, or when they will get a service they paid for.
  2. The utilities workforce can no longer afford the manpower to operate on jobs from a custom basis, which “increases the pressure to get it first time right and enable younger workforce to cover” says Kapil. 
  3. The ability to proactively provide recommendations to customers both to avoid surprises as well as to avoid any negative experience that will go into building a lot of trust needs the highest focus for overall improvement.

It has become evident that with high expectations, and friction-filled processes, customers are quick to lose trust with utilities. This doesn’t just impact business, but with a bigger reach for low-carbon technologies and energy solutions, this also dampens progress towards Net Zero goals.

On the other hand, there has been a strong uptake from customers when utilities deliver smarter, innovative solutions that improve the customer experience. About 80% of UK utilities are now employing video-first, AI-powered technologies like Vyntelligence to boost their CSAT scores and ensure customer trust.

Your journey to ensuring customer trust and hitting 9.5+ CSAT scores is only two weeks away. Book in a demo to find out more now.