With changes in technology and marketing software, the way utility companies interact with their customers has changed accordingly.
To bring services closer to the people, companies have to up their game and ensure that their customers get their service as soon as they need it.
For utility companies, keeping up with the pace of your customers means you provide their bills, statements, and other forms of communication your customer requires from you.
One way to this communication is through automation systems to respond to your customers when needed.
If you’re wondering why this matters, according to research:
- 86% of customers have to contact customer service representatives multiple times for the same reason.
- 66% of US adults said valuing their time is the most important thing companies can do in their customer communications.
- 95% of consumers cite customer service and communication as important in their choice of loyalty to a brand.
All this to say: Customer communication is getting more and more important. And one of the best ways to improve your communications as a utility company is through automation. Though, there are some parts you should NOT be automating.
All that and more, we’ll cover in detail below.
Here’s what you’ll learn:
- What Is Automation In Customer Communications And How Does It Work?
- What Can I Automate As An Utility Company In My Customer Communications? 7 Examples
- When To Not Automate Customer Communications
- Types Of Utility Bills To Automate And How
What Is Automation In Customer Communications And How Does It Work?
Automation in customer communication refers to tools or systems that help ensure seamless communication between a company and its clients.
These tools, also known as customer communication management tools, or CCM, help you create messages, manage responses and send out new communication from a centralized and easy to maneuver interface.
Using CCM software allows you to streamline your business operations and harmonize your communication for enhanced customer interactivity.
CCM software also allows you to use all available communication channels to meet your customers' needs in one place.
Wherever your customers are, you will be able to address their concerns and provide relevant information regarding your services.
A good customer communication management tool should also meet all the industry data handling regulations, nationally or internationally. It should be compliant with the FINRA and GxP data residency requirements and GDPR international privacy standards.
Now, if you’re wondering what this looks like practically, let’s take a look at use cases and examples of what you can be automating.
What Can I Automate As An Utility Company In My Customer Communications? 7 Examples
Some examples of the kind of documents and forms you can be automating include:
- Repetitive customer requests.
- Orders, sign-ups, and payment confirmation letters.
- Shipping status updates.
- Workflow and internal processes.
- Helpful tips.
- Frequently asked questions.
- New company updates or product information.
- And more.
Let’s cover how this works in detail.
And after that, we’ll be covering some examples of what you should NOT be automating in your customer communications.
Repetitive customer requests
As a utility company, you will be handling a lot of customer communication, which can sometimes be repetitive.
This communication includes common billing inquiries, requests for a change of address, or requests to start or stop certain services for the customer.
Orders, sign-up forms, and payment confirmation
You can automate your company's orders, sign-ups, and payment confirmations.
These are the most common forms of customer communications. And typically, they require you to manually input new information like relevant entities, payment amounts, dates, or names of vendors.
As soon as your customer places an order or signs up on your site, you can send automated messages to let them know you have received their order or sign-up request and when they can expect it to be processed.
You also send the same communication messages when a customer makes a payment on your site.
Automating these customer communications gives you the chance to thank or welcome your customers onboard, letting them know you are or have acted upon their request upon receiving it.
Since the forms get repetitive and all you have to do is enter new pieces of information, it’s easy to use automated document generation here.
Shipping status updates
You can automate communications to notify your customers of the package status, expected delays, or any other changes regarding any shipment they may be expecting from your company.
Initiating these updates helps assure your customers of your commitment to serving them. It also builds on loyalty between you and your customer.
Workflow and internal processes
You can automate communication to your customers about the internal processes regarding their requested service.
This communication can include details like when to expect specific feedback regarding a query or how long it would take your company to provide certain services.
Chatbots are also useful here. This way, users can quickly select what they need help with and land on the right information page instead of searching through your website content to find an answer.
Helpful utility tips and updates
You can automate messages that help your customers learn to start using your products or services. You can set these messages out to your customers as soon as they sign up for a service or buy a product from your company.
You can send these tips in the form of an email outlining the various steps your customer can take to get started on your product or service. You can also send an email or text message directing your customer to a specific page or video on your website to guide them in getting started with your product or service.
Frequently asked questions
Customers have questions they ask regarding the services your company offers them.
You can automate responses to questions that your customers ask frequently. Automating responses to FAQs makes it easier for you and your employees to offer the right answers to questions in a timely fashion.
New company updates or product information
You can design document templates to send out new information about your company or any upcoming products to your customers.
The multi-channel communication feature in customer communication software lets you send company updates through social media, email, or text easily and efficiently.
With all this said, there are certain things you should NOT be automating. Here’s what you need to know.
When To Not Automate Customer Communications
There are some forms of customer communications that you cannot automate because of their inherent personal nature.
Typically, you'll come across 2 different forms of information as a utility company:
- Static information - Information that doesn't change. For example, your utility company's name and address that’s the same on all of your customer communication forms.
- Dynamic information - Information that keeps changing on the document template. For example, your customers' names and addresses.
With automated document generation, you can create different types of documents. Using a combination of customer data (dynamic information) and your company info (static information).
However, if your system has captured wrong or conflicting information about a particular customer, you will be required to verify this and respond to the customer manually.
Or, alternatively, sometimes customers make mistakes and input the wrong information. In that case, you’ll want to step in manually and not automate your communications.
Types Of Utility Bills To Automate And How
Depending on the kind of service you provide, you can consider automating your utility bills.
Some bills can be accessed and fulfilled online, while others like gas or electricity bills may or may not require to be printed. So, one option here is to balance paper and digital.
Utility bill printing can be a tedious process, and government regulations don't make it easier for most companies. Automating these utility bills makes it easier for you and your employees to design the bill, gather and input bill information from the different data points and mail them directly to the customers.
Some of the utility bills you can consider automating include:
- Electricity bills.
- Water and sewage bills.
- Gas bills.
- Trash collection and recycling bills.
- Telephone bills.
- Internet connection bills.
Automating utility bills helps you and your employees free up time you'd otherwise spend working on the bills manually. A third-party system can compile billing information and deliver bills to your customers much faster, allowing you to concentrate on other demanding tasks in your company.
Utility bill automation is also more cost-efficient. Your communication automation service provider will batch print your customer communication, reducing printing costs and maximizing batch printing discounts.
See our full guide on 5 factors to consider when deciding if document automation is possible for you!
Where To Go From Here
So, to recap, there are a lot of different ways you can use automated document generation for your utility company operations.
As a rule of thumb, if you find yourself manually creating the same document templates from scratch, only inputting a new source of information, chances are, it can be automated.
This includes documents like:
- Customer forms.
- Invoices and bills.
- Shipping status updates.
- Electricity and gas bills.
- And more.
All this, you can accomplish with the right document generation software.
Not sure where to go from here?
Check out our guide on questions to consider when evaluating document generation software. In it, we narrow down on the feature and other factors you should be looking for in document tools.
Hope this guide to automating customer communications helped!