Following widespread industry deregulation, the energy and utilities sector has become increasingly competitive. With more and more choices available to customers, providing quality customer service is more critical than ever. Customer loyalty is no longer guaranteed, with negative experiences driving ratepayers to the competition: 43% of utility customers who have a negative experience are still members after a year, compared to 74% of those who’ve had a positive experience. It’s a perfect storm of high consumer expectations, a host of new challenger brands, and online price comparison sites.
In this new era, customer service has become the battleground for organizations in the utilities sector. Those that win on this front are retaining customers and growing revenue. Those who lose are losing big. For example, in 2018, British Gas announced the loss of 340,000 customers and a 20% drop in profits.
Those looking to regain some ground through their customer service offering must first equip themselves with the data necessary to make informed decisions. What metrics should you measure, though? Here are the four key performance indicators (KPIs) your call center must be tracking.
1. Response Time
Response time, or average time in queue, is the average time it takes to respond to a customer call. In essence, this allows you to understand how much time customers spend on hold before speaking to an agent. According to J.D. Power and Associate’s annual customer satisfaction survey, speaking with a customer service rep is the lowest-rated utility customer service channel in terms of customer experience.
While the phone channel is often argued to be in decline as a result of improved self-service options, a survey from Northridge found that the phone remains the channel of choice for payment-related concerns, resolving issues, and account changes. Most consumers believe that it offers the fastest way to of dealing with problems. As a result, long hold-times are one of the consumers top complaints. One of the best ways to reduce response time? Offer customers a call back service so they don’t have to be kept waiting.
2. First Call Resolution (FCR)
FCR refers to the contact center’s ability to resolve customer problems, questions or the needs the first time they call, with no follow-up. Research from The Ascent Group found that 60% of companies that measure FCR for over a year report a 1 to 30% improvement in performance. On top of this, Customer service satisfaction is up to 100 points higher among customers whose issues/inquiries are resolved in the first contact. It also offers a possible customer service point of differentiation as utilities’ percentage of FCR have remained relatively flat over the past two years and is currently at 70%.
3. Self-Service Success Rate
There are a whole number of self-service metrics your utility contact center should be tracking. One that is particularly illuminating is the number of inquiries that are handled by self-service channels without being escalated to a human agent. This is typically measured by asking the user to rate the article or mark it as “useful” or “this solved my problem.”
4. Customer Satisfaction
While customer satisfaction indexes in the US are declining for utilities, measuring customer satisfaction matters a lot. The customer satisfaction score, or CSAT, is a time-tested metric. It is a customer satisfaction survey that targets the customer with variations of a very basic question: “how would you rate your experience dealing with our organization?” There is a lot of material out there on how to measure CSAT and how to improve it. CSAT is a great metric to track as it helps you determine how your business is performing in the eyes of your customers. It’s simple, yet adaptable for a variety of circumstances and can be used in conjunction with other sentiment measurements.
It’s in the interest of all utility companies to make sure that they are delivering a consistently high standard for their customers. Dealing with customer complaints efficiently will save them time and money, build trust with their customers and create a point of difference from their competitors. As the adage goes, if you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it. It starts by having the right KPIs in place and working consistently to improve them.