As it turns out, across the country, utility customers are highly satisfied with their services, but lack customer trust. This is according to the 2016 Utility Trusted Brand & Customer Engagement™: Residential, a study from Market Strategies International. Customer trust is obviously very important in areas where competition exists, but what about the areas where competition is not a factor?
Though there are many reasons utilities should be focusing on increasing customer trust, natural disasters rises to the top of the list. Especially after what the country has experienced so far this year. According to USA Today, 2017 could tie the all-time record for billon-dollar disasters in a single year.
Utilities that have high customer trust fair amongst the best after natural disasters. They experience:
- The highest rate of customer engagement to help spread the necessary messages or report outages or issues.
- The highest amount of customer participation in solving some of the issues.
- The least amount of angry customers.
How to Increase Customer Trust in Your Utility
Utilities with the highest rates of customer trust communicate with their customers often. Not only during outages or rate increases, but also during the down times. Communication doesn’t need to be elaborate or lengthy. Simple messages or reminders about their services delivered in different ways can keep your customers engaged all year long. It reminds them that your utility is there for them, during good times and bad.
Embrace Social Media
Embracing social media can make the first tip of communicating often much easier. Utilities have a lot going on, so share it! Everything from reminders about options for paying your bill, to interesting things your operations staff uncovered while in the field. In today’s social world, highlighting staff is another way to keep your customers engaged and give your utility a face and personality.
Share Small Successes
Whether you just replaced a broken valve or received some great feedback about your great customer service, share it! Start thinking about how you can share little pieces of the things you do every day with your customers. This is a great way to remind them that your utility is at work every day to improve services.
Share Infrastructure Facts
Not every customer you have will be interested in how many miles of pipe you have in the ground or gallons of water you deliver or treat each day, but some of them will LOVE it! Set some time aside each year to compile some data about your utility system. Use these as little snippets to fill up space on your printed material and use as quick social media posts.
Collect and Evaluate Customer Data
As the old saying goes, “you can’t manage what you can’t measure”. With today’s technology, surveys are not only much less expensive, they are also more accepted by your customers than you might think. A quick survey once a year can help you gauge the change in customer trust and also reveal those areas that could use a renewed focus. Here are some tips for increasing your survey responses. Not a do-it-yourself-er? No problem. Goldstreet can conduct your survey and analyze the results for you. See how we helped the City of Lodi, California with their stormwater general awareness survey.