The value for utilities in optimizing their customers’ mobile interactions is clear. 54% of smartphone owners access utility information on their utility’s website, and J.D. Power said it best when they noted that “the lack of an optimized mobile solution is a missed opportunity to service customers.” Key takeaways from this year’s Mobile Utility Week conference include tips, examples and trends for mobile optimization for utilities:
Investment in Self-Service: An example of a large improvement to customer mobile experience came from Frank Scumacci, General Manager of eChannels for ComEd. He shared with Mobile Utility Week’s attendees ComEd’s continuing strategy to invest in more and better customer self-service options/experiences for their 3.8 million customers. In 2013, 84% of all ComEd’s transactions were completed through self-service. In 2014, ComEd saw a 25% increase in mobile web transactions. They have also realized a 20% decrease in customer transaction costs over the last 6 years. ComEd, a Usablenet client, is realizing the large, clearly measurable and sought-after results it invested in. Self-service should not only be a factor in a utility’s mobile strategy, but a continued investment.
Growth of Tablet: Tablet’s continued emergence was another important takeaway of the conference, noted by both IDC and J.D. Power. We know that Utility customers are increasingly accessing their provider’s website through tablet and smartphone. What is interesting is that tablet ownership and usage by customers to access their supplier’s site is actually increasing at a greater rate than it is on smartphone. According to J.D. Power’s 2014 Utility Website Evaluation Study, tablet ownership among the customers of the 75 largest U.S. Electric and/or Gas Regulated Utilities increased from 39% in 2013 to 61% in 2014, and their tablet usage on their utility’s mobile sites increased from 24% to 52%.
Demand for Expertise: The need for UI/UX expertise is vast and growing. Along with knowledge of the Utility business, this expertise is necessary to achieve a better customer experience or any measurable increase in customer satisfaction. Customers have high expectations for their mobile and multi-channel experience – and only UI/UX experts have the proper knowledge to optimize mobile. There is also a need for a strategic technology partner that understands how mobile and multi-channel customer experience solutions can work within a utility’s environment and roadmap. Responsive Web Design may not be effective in improving customer satisfaction across multiple channels – this was a clear trend reinforced by J.D. Power.
Utility executives know they have to act. They also know that a basic experience not optimized for mobile will negatively impact customer satisfaction. They are faced with a mandate to make their customers’ mobile experiences clearly and measurably better – not an easy task, but one that can be achieved with proper strategy and preparation.