A CRM solution that works well in one industry may not work as well in another. The utility industry faces some difficult challenges that CRM can help solve.
The deregulation of the utility industry has reduced margins to razor-thin levels because of the increased level of competition and utility companies must find the most effective way to manage their costs in order to increase profits. Utility companies provide a unique challenge to CRM firms, but utility companies can use CRM to manage customer relations and enhance the customer experience.
Utility companies face a challenge with the structure of the business. Most of the employees in a utility company are working out in the field as agents or installers, and do not have full-time access to company computers or the company network. For decades this meant that field personnel were limited in the amount of information they had about a customer or a job assignment because there was no way for the field agent to get the information. With the advent of smart phones, field agents have the ability to access customer data quickly, from any job site. This mobile technology makes CRM a perfect solution for field agents. Appointments can be scheduled by the call center and updated directly to the agent’s CRM profile. When the field agent logs in to the system the agent can see the next assignment, and if the system is integrated with a map program like Google Maps, the agent can automatically find the quickest route to the next destination.
More often than not, customer calls to the utility company are issues that could easily be fixed by the customer, if the customer knew how. Since the customer does not know how to fix the issue, they must call the call center, wait on hold and then get the answers to their questions. CRM provides a solution to this problem by helping utility companies create self-service portals for customers, which include a platform for requesting service and a knowledgebase to walk customers through easy to fix repairs. By providing these options, CRM firms can drastically reduce the number of calls to the utility’s call center, reducing hold times and increasing customer happiness. The self help knowledge base also increases profitability by decreasing the number of service calls that are made to homes where the problem could have been fixed by the resident. This enables the utility company to prioritize their service fleet to respond quickly to those situations that really do require an expert technician.
Upselling and targeted marketing are important parts of a comprehensive marketing strategy. Because CRM solutions gather and synchronize large amounts of customer data, the CRM software is able to find connections between customers that can help form the foundation of a targeted marketing campaign. This data can also be used to see what services a customer might not be utilizing that other customers with similar data profiles are using, allowing the sales team to make a focused effort at upselling products to the customer. In the case of utility companies, a CRM system can help the company identify which customers have severe usage spikes and offer those customers upgraded packages to negate some of the sharp increases the customer sees.
Utility companies are one of the many types of companies that can benefit from the use of a CRM solution. By addressing the unique needs of utility companies, CRM firms can demonstrate their adaptability to any business in any industry.