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Digital Self Service and Today’s Utilities

January, 2020

The overall tone of the research, data, and conversation around digital self-service is that it’s good for customers. In fact, not only do customers like it, they have come to expect and rely on the advantages of customer self-service as an option. The keyword being option, the way self-serve lanes at grocery stores are an option in addition to traditional cashiers.

So, when it comes to the utility industry, what are these advantages of digital self-service?

When done well, digital self-service saves the customer time. Not only is it quicker to, say, pay a bill online, it is also a task that can be executed 24 hours a day. A utility customer can pay their bill, stop, start, or transfer service, or enroll in a program at 2am on a Saturday—no envelopes, stamps, or special trips into town. And, the days of waiting to speak with an agent between normal business hours are over.

In this way, digital self-service satisfies the basic key demands of most customers who want service that saves them time, money, and energy. But, that’s not the end of the story. From time to time, customers still need to speak with a real, live human being—and, because digital self-service reduces call center volume and reduces wait times, customer service representatives can be more attentive and present to the individual customer’s concerns and needs. More than that, with fewer calls coming in, utilities save money by requiring smaller teams. It creates a win for companies and customer service teams alike.

Done right, good digital self-service tools can make a very large utility feel small and customer centric, and a small utility feel more flexible and sophisticated. Done right, the self-service option makes service better.