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Why technology can restore the public’s trust in utilities firms

by Marc Hobell | July 22, 2015 | No Comments

 

A detailed investigation into utility firms has found millions of energy customers in the UK to be ‘paying too much’ for their energy bills. The investigation, lasting a year, was carried out by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) and found that over the five years from 2009 to 2011, the UK’s six major energy companies charged households over a billion a year more than if they were in a competitive market. British Gas, E-On, Npower, EDF Energy, Scottish Power and SSE were all under the spotlight, and criticised for not making tariffs more visible1.

The revelation, although shocking, comes as no surprise to anyone who has had to delve through the small print, be it on the website or in a physical bill, to find out which tariff they are on. Ask friends and family how much they are paying for their utilities, and chances are they’re not sure – and certainly can’t say whether there may be a tariff more suited to them. And therein lies the problem. Educated, cost-savvy, time-poor consumers are left illiterate, disempowered and frustrated when it comes to understanding utilities tariffs. In the long term, this has a major impact on the reputation and performance of the utilities industry, already licking its wounds when research revealed that 91% switch suppliers due to lack of trust, and 94% to poor communication. 93% of respondents in the same survey believe utilities companies should take the lead to re-establish confidence in the sector2.

The industry has a duty to respond. There is – excuse the pun – a glimmer of hope and it lies, as it so often does, in technology. In video technology, to be exact. Personalised Interactive Video changes the way utilities firms communicate with their customers, taking engagement to a new level and drawing on consumers’ love affair with the medium of video. The videos, unique to each recipient, draw on different customer data sets and use them to create dynamic, interactive real-time video content which changes based on responses to customer prompts.

Personalised Interactive Video allows utilities firms to deliver immersive, relevant and engaging interactions across the customer lifecycle, increasing customer lifetime value. It also educates and informs customers in a clear and engaging way. It can be used to clarify complex tariffs. It can increase visibility and understanding of the ‘small print’, reducing the need for callers to get in touch with call centre staff to go through detail and discuss any misunderstandings. It delivers relevant, timely communications with precision and accuracy, making intuitive and helpful suggestions on alternative tariffs to save consumers money. And it can offer “best next engagement” recommendations based on individual circumstances.

Creating an interactive dialogue through Personalised Interactive Video can improve customer satisfaction and drive loyalty and retention. And crucially, it boosts transparency, which at this moment in time is more critical to the performance of utilities firms than to any other industry.

1 Research by the Competition and Markets Authority

2 Research by WNS Global Services as featured in MyCustomer.com

 

 

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