To stay ahead in the game, utility providers are designing a social media strategy that has aspects of engaging and educating consumer, building brand awareness, and offering improved customer service.
FREMONT, CA: If the sweet treat apple pie that a customer orders online is not toothsome, then social media offers a way to lodge a complaint for resolution. Social media can flood a shopaholic, wishing to purchase a trending attire from a fashion site, with its news. In the present situation, it totally makes sense for the utility provider to be as present, available, and expert in social media platforms just as food chains and e-commerce sites do. Utility customers' social media appetite is growing.
There is an evident uptrend in the number of customers who are open to interacting with utilities through social media. This makes it necessary for utility providers to use social media platforms to share real-time information with their customers. Underlining the interactive value provided by social media, customers are demanding answers to questions, opinion expression. Here is more to how utilities are leveraging social media to engage their customers more efficiently.
· Connecting with Customers
With the world becoming modern, many companies have realized all the 'new' that social media can provide in terms of customer interaction and communication. To keep customers engage on social media and improve event visibility during power outages utility providers are offering customers with real-time maps with event updates on social media sites. Outage notification and communication is just a start of utility's social media practice.
Major utility companies are also integrating social media communication with their customer relationship management function. With early trigger on social media on outages or shortages, providers can also optimize its contact center workforce and accordingly adjust it. Social media is not a standalone platform, but it needs to be aligned with customer interaction strategies to ensure a consistent approach in multiple channels.
· Creating Brand Awareness
Whether it is a general comment or criticism, social media is often the first place, where customers voice their thoughts and opinions. It is the same in the case of utility companies. Brand value could be often defined by the place it has made in the customers' mind. As customers are increasingly using social media to raise their voice about their providers, it also presents utility providers with an opportunity to manage brand perception and positively navigate customer sentiments towards the brand.
Utility brands are using their social media presence to manage their customer satisfaction effectively. But this makes it important to have a sound online reputation management system. It is an important factor how a brand handles queries and criticism on social media platforms and fast response time and polite tone of voice across the conversation is mandatory. Valuing customer's time is the most effective approach for brands to be effective in social media communication.
· Social Analytics
By monitoring and analyzing social media, utilities can do social analytics. Following customer, trends could alert providers when customers are to adopt new programs allowing them to tailor appropriate plans before customers need it. Social analytics can provide insights on customers who need to be more energy efficient in their approach, and providers can set forth appropriate plans to them. Proposing such plans can encourage more people to be energy efficient in their efforts.
The benefits of social analytics do not end at simply improving energy efficiency. With customer data gathered from social media, on a historical baseline, utilities can analyze events in comparison to previous outages and in combination with asset locations and other visualization. With all the customer data collected, utility staff can create maps, applications, analytics, and share them with the existing enterprise database. By analyzing both traditional and non-traditional data utilities can better understand customer's key concerns and drive faster outage and shortage response.
· Offering Advice and Tips
Social media platforms can be effectively used to educate customers about energy savings and the ideal use of devices in a user-friendly manner. Social media is a cost-effective platform, and utilities are using ii to reach out to customers rather than adopting the costly traditional methods of creating and managing audio-visual campaigns. These platforms can also be used to promote web-based tools to help consumers evaluate their monthly utility usage and make efforts to lower utilization and charges. Many utility providers are already pursuing interactions with customers on ways to save water, energy, natural gas, and the essentiality of renewable energy. All this means that communication with customers on social media platforms tends to tailor better engagement and also allows a virtual conversation with the customer.
Driven by a paradigm shift towards social media, utilities are abandoning traditionalist approach of communicating with customers. Firms are strategically aligning social media with their contact center practice and delivering uniform customer service across all channels.