Why Utilities Should Engage Their Customers
Things are changing for utility and their customers.
Time was a utility company only came on the radar when a bill arrived, or when something went wrong with the service and it was time to complain.
With the popularity of social media and the mobile and instant nature of internet communications, utility customers are faster to reach out to their providers, with the best and worst of their customer service fair fodder for public discussion.
For utility companies, that means great customer service is more important than ever.
So what can utility companies do to improve their customer relations?
Customer Trust in Utilities Has Room to Grow
According to the article "3 Ways to Get Better Customer Service", customer service overall has a way to go.
The number of customers reporting problems rose from 45% in 2011 to 50% in 2013.
For utility companies who don't want their customers to be counted among the dissatisfied, it's time to pay attention to the customer service experience, the transparency with which problems are handled, and the speed with which complaints are dealt with.
Good customer service encourages customers to trust their utility companies, letting them know that the company values their custom and is dedicated to providing them with a well-priced and reliable service, and fixing problems quickly.
With customers quick to talk about their experiences, that means a better public profile for the company, more customer loyalty and, ultimately, better profits as customers stay and pay.
Real Time Updates Keep Customers in the Loop
For utility customers, service outages are frustrating and inconvenient. A lack of updates from their utility company only adds to that.
Finding ways to manage outages that keep customers in the loop and let them know what is going on and, more importantly, what exactly is being done about it, lets them know that their utility company is doing everything it can to give them the service they expect.
For example, Wisconsin Public Service Corp has had success in tackling outages with an up to date outage management service.
Real-time information on current outages and Twitter updates combined with useful information how the company handles outages has made the customer experience that much more useful, earning WPS high scores on customer satisfaction surveys.
Responsive Customer Service Earns Praise
Midwestern utility company DTE Energy beat out the competition in the J.D. Power 2014 Customer Satisfaction study, with customers responding positively to DTE's strong focus on customer satisfaction.
DTE has worked to make the customer experience a better one by making it easy and convenient to pay bills, reducing waiting times, and making life easier with readily available information about natural gas safety and energy efficiency.
Truly customer-focused service puts the customer first at all times, looking for ways to make their dealings with a utility company pleasant, quick, helpful and convenient.
By striving to offer quick and responsive customer service that gets the job done, utility companies can build customer satisfaction.
Good Social Engagement is a Powerful Customer Service Tool
Social media is a meeting point for customers and businesses of all kinds these days.
Customers take to social media to research businesses, to connect with businesses they already give custom to, and to find out what other people are saying about businesses.
For utility companies, joining this conversation in a positive way with interesting and useful social media updates and quick responses to comments can help to raise their profile.
The E Source Utility Social Media Survey in 2013 showed clearly that a strong social media presence is a must for utility companies.
Customers praised companies such as Dominion, PG&E and Avista for their personal touches, great online personalities, interesting information and use of social media to keep customers updates about outages and issues such as storms.
Utility companies can make use of technology and social media to build strong customer relations, offering their customers quick service, keeping them in the loop when trouble strikes, solving problems and creating an online presence that is welcoming and engaging.
Tristan Anwyn writes on a wide variety of topics, including social media, SEO, utility companies and customer service.
Hydrostor receives $4m funding for A-CAES facility in Canada
Hydrostor has received $4m funding to develop a 300-500MW Advanced Compressed Air Energy Storage (A-CAES) facility in Canada.
The funding will be used to complete essential engineering and planning, and enable Hydrostor to plan construction.
The project will be modeled on Hydrostor’s commercially operating Goderich storage facility, providing up to 12 hours of energy storage.
Hydrostor’s A-CAES system supports Canada’s green economic transition by designing, building, and operating emissions-free energy storage facilities, and employing people, suppliers, and technologies from the oil and gas sector.
The Honorable Seamus O’Regan, Jr. Minister of Natural Resources, said: “Investing in clean technology will lower emissions and increase our competitiveness. This is how we get to net zero by 2050.”
A-CAES has the potential to lower greenhouse gas emissions by enabling the transition to a cleaner and more flexible electricity grid. Specifically, the low-impact and cost-effective technology will reduce the use of fossil fuels and will provide reliable and bankable energy storage solutions for utilities and regulators, while integrating renewable energy for sustainable growth.
Curtis VanWalleghem, Hydrostor’s Chief Executive Officer, said: “We are grateful for the federal government’s support of our long duration energy storage solution that is critical to enabling the clean energy transition. This made-in-Canada solution, with the support of NRCan and Sustainable Development Technology Canada, is ready to be widely deployed within Canada and globally to lower electricity rates and decarbonize the electricity sector."
The Rosamond A-CAES 500MW Project is under advanced development and targeting a 2024 launch. It is designed to turn California’s growing solar and wind resources into on-demand peak capacity while allowing for closure of fossil fuel generating stations.
Hydrostor closed US$37 million (C$49 million) in growth financing in September 2019.