CEO’s Report: Increase customer satisfaction through effective communication

Utilities are like any other business. They provide a service. They have customers. Like any business, they need to make sure their customers are happy.

Communication is key to customer service. It requires listening to your customers and in turn, telling them how you plan to help.

It’s more than listening to complaints. In fact, good communication can ensure fewer complaints. It’s about being accessible to customers, through a variety of means.

Social media as a tool

Some utilities shy away from social media. The fear of negative comments keeps them from engaging.

But if consumers aren’t happy, they will find some way to share their displeasure. Not having a social media page won’t stop them.

Having one gives you the chance to respond quickly to their concerns. It’s better to have them complain to you than about you somewhere else.

It also gives customers the chance to tell everyone how happy they are with your service. Chances are you have a large segment of customers who truly appreciate your staff and your work.

Social media is a great way to interact with customers. It’s also the fastest way to share with them what you’re doing.

If your staff is working in the middle of the night or on a weekend, let them know. If you’re hanging Christmas decorations or plowing snow, take pictures and post.

Show customers you are working hard to provide them service at all hours. It’s likely many don’t realize the variety of jobs your utility performs. It doesn’t hurt to let them know.

Consumers want options

The number one thing consumers want is information.

Most people are not reading through meeting minutes. They aren’t searching for information that may affect them.

But the last thing they want is to be surprised. Active notifications go a long way in keeping customers happy.

Social media is a great way to communicate information quickly. But there are others.

Many utilities now correspond with customers via text apps. If you have a power outage or street closure planned, you can notify all customers with one click.

You can also create a utility app. Customers can access information right from their smartphones and receive alerts.

Email is another great tool.

A city or utility website is also vital. But it does no good if information is not updated. Everything a resident needs to know about the utility should be clear on your website. Setting up service, rates, rebates, and staff contact should be a click away.

The most important thing is to be proactive. Getting information out right away will increase customer satisfaction.

Creating positive experiences

The main difference between a utility and other businesses is choice. Unless your customers move, they don’t decide who provides their utilities.

If a customer has a bad experience at a restaurant or a store, not only can they share that experience, they can choose not to go back.

That isn’t the case for their utility service. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t aim to create positive experiences.

Engage your customers. Allow them to share ideas. Invite them to attend meetings. Understanding their expectations allows you to better respond to their needs.

Creating these positive experiences will make your customers glad to have you as a provider.

Heartland is happy to assist in any way possible. If you need help setting up social media accounts, let us know. If you need a recommendation on a text app, we can provide it. And if you have an idea of how WE can better communicate with YOU, we want to hear that too.