Future of CRM/CX Technology in the Utility Industry:
Trends & Predictions
As the utility industry evolves, customer relationship management (CRM) and customer experience (CX) technology have become increasingly important. From what I’ve witnessed, these technologies are designed to help utility companies better understand and engage with their customers, providing a more personalized and satisfying experience.
In 2022, it was projected that utility companies would invest approximately $641 billion in CX technologies, highlighting the increasing significance of CRM/CX technology in the industry. It has also been observed that around 80% of utility customers place equal value on experience as they do on products and services. Additionally, 59% of customers have expressed that brands must improve the human element of CX. [1,2]
With a global focus on reducing carbon emissions, it has become crucial for utility and energy industries to enhance their customer experience to achieve their objectives. In this article, you’ll explore the trends and predictions for CRM/CX technology in the utility industry.
Trends in CRM/CX Technology in the Utility Industry
Let’s delve into the latest trends for CRM/CX technology in the utility industry:
- Shift to a Customer-Centric Approach: Utility companies realize that they need to put the needs and preferences of their customers at the forefront of their operations to improve customer satisfaction and loyalty. This means focusing on customer service, billing and payment options, and personalized communication. As a result, companies are investing in new technologies and tools to understand their customers’ needs and preferences better and provide them with tailored solutions that meet their specific requirements.
- Increased Use of Data Analytics & Artificial Intelligence (AI): With the vast amount of data available in the industry, companies are using sophisticated analytics tools better to understand customer behavior, preferences, and needs. AI is used to develop predictive models that anticipate customer needs and preferences and provide targeted solutions and recommendations. This is helping utility companies to improve customer satisfaction and loyalty, as well as to streamline their operations.
- Integration of Multiple Channels for Customer Engagement: Customers today expect to be able to interact with companies through a variety of channels, including email, chat, social media, and phone. Utility companies want to provide a seamless and consistent experience across all channels. This includes the development of omnichannel platforms that allow their customers to engage with them via their preferred channel, as well as the integration of chatbots and other AI-powered tools.
- Greater Emphasis on Personalized Experiences: Personalization is becoming increasingly important in the utility industry, as customers expect tailored solutions that meet their needs and preferences. Utility companies want to understand customers’ preferences and provide personalized solutions and recommendations. This includes the development of self-service platforms that allow customers to manage their accounts and preferences online, as well as using AI-powered tools that can recommend products and services based on customer behavior and preferences.
- Adoption of Self-Service Platforms: Customers want to be able to manage their accounts and preferences online without human intervention. Utility companies are investing in new technologies and tools allowing customers to manage their accounts and preferences online, including developing mobile apps, portals, and chatbots. These tools improve customer satisfaction and loyalty and help reduce costs and streamline operations for utility companies.
Predictions for CRM/CX Technology in the Utility Industry
I believe that the future of CRM/CX technology in the utility industry is promising, with new technologies and trends emerging to meet the growing demands of customers. Below are the latest predictions for CRM/CX technology in the utility industry; understanding them can help you prepare for the future and stay ahead of the competition.
- Expansion of Mobile & Social Media Platforms for Customer Engagement: As mobile and social media continue to grow in popularity, utility companies are expected to expand their use of these platforms for customer engagement. Customers want to interact with companies via their preferred channels, including mobile apps, social media platforms, and messaging services. Utility companies must invest in new technologies and tools to provide a seamless and consistent experience across all channels. This includes the development of mobile apps that allow customers to manage their accounts and preferences, as well as the integration of chatbots and other AI-powered tools for customer support.
- Use of Predictive Analytics to Anticipate Customer Needs: Predictive analytics is becoming increasingly important in the utility industry as companies look to anticipate customer needs and preferences. By analyzing customer behavior and data, companies can develop predictive models to anticipate customer needs and provide targeted solutions and recommendations. Utility companies want to understand their customers’ needs and preferences better and provide them with tailored solutions and recommendations. This will help to improve customer satisfaction and loyalty and to streamline operations for utility companies.
- Integration of IoT Devices for Real-Time Monitoring: The Internet of Things (IoT) is becoming increasingly important in the utility industry as companies look to improve their operations and customer engagement. IoT devices can be used for real-time monitoring and control of energy systems and customer communication and engagement. Utilities will invest in new IoT devices and technologies that allow them to monitor and control energy systems and provide customers with real-time updates and notifications. This will help to improve customer satisfaction and loyalty and to streamline operations for utility companies.
- Development of Virtual Assistants for Customer Support: Virtual assistants, such as chatbots and voice assistants, are becoming increasingly popular in the utility industry as companies look to provide more personalized and efficient customer support. These tools can be used for various tasks, including account management, billing and payments, and technical support. Utility companies want to provide more efficient and personalized customer support. This will help to improve customer satisfaction and loyalty, reduce costs, and streamline operations for utility companies.
- Increased Use of Blockchain Technology for Customer Data Management: Blockchain technology is becoming increasingly important in the utility industry as companies look to improve customer data management and security. Blockchain technology provides a secure and transparent way to store and share customer data, which can help to strengthen trust and transparency with customers. Many utility companies plan to invest in new blockchain technologies to securely store and share customer data and give customers greater control over their data. This will help to improve customer satisfaction and loyalty and to ensure compliance with regulatory requirements.
Benefits of Adopting Advanced CRM/CX Technology
In my view, the utility industry is transforming significantly, with CRM/CX technology playing an increasingly important role. I believe that by adopting advanced CRM/CX technology, utility companies can enjoy a range of benefits, including:
- Improved Customer Satisfaction & Loyalty: By adopting advanced CRM/CX technology, utility companies can better understand their customers’ needs and preferences and provide them with tailored solutions and recommendations. This helps to improve customer satisfaction and loyalty, as customers feel that their needs are being met and that the company is considering their feedback. Furthermore, by providing a more personalized and satisfying experience, utility companies can differentiate themselves from their competitors and attract new customers.
- Enhanced Operational Efficiency & Cost Savings: Another benefit of adopting advanced CRM/CX technology is improved operational efficiency and cost savings. Utility companies can reduce their employees’ workload and streamline their operations by automating routine tasks and providing self-service options to customers. This saves time and money and improves the accuracy and consistency of customer interactions, leading to higher customer satisfaction and loyalty.
- Better Regulatory Compliance: Utility companies operate in a heavily regulated environment, with various rules and standards governing their operations. By adopting advanced CRM/CX technology, utility companies can ensure compliance with these regulations and standards, reducing the risk of penalties and fines. For example, advanced CRM/CX technology can help companies to maintain accurate and up-to-date records, ensure that billing and payment processes are transparent and fair, and provide customers with timely and accurate information about their energy usage.
- Increased Revenue Growth Opportunities: Adopting advanced CRM/CX technology can open new revenue growth opportunities for utility companies. By better understanding their customers’ needs and preferences, utility companies can identify new products and services in demand and develop targeted marketing and sales campaigns to promote them. For example, by analyzing customer energy usage patterns, utility companies can identify opportunities to promote energy-efficient products and services, such as smart thermostats, LED lighting, and solar panels.
Challenges & Considerations for Implementing Advanced CRM/CX
I think that while adopting advanced CRM/CX technology can benefit utility companies significantly, several challenges and considerations must be considered when implementing these technologies; some of the key challenges include:
- Data Privacy & Security Concerns: As utility companies handle large amounts of sensitive customer data, essential data privacy and security concerns are associated with implementing advanced CRM/CX technology. These technologies often involve collecting, storing, and processing large amounts of data from multiple sources, which can increase the risk of data breaches and cyber-attacks. Utility companies must ensure robust data privacy and security policies and comply with relevant regulations and standards, such as GDPR and ISO 27001. To protect their systems and data, they must invest in advanced security technologies, such as firewalls, encryption, and intrusion detection systems.
- Integration with Existing Legacy Systems: Utility companies often have complex and heterogeneous IT infrastructures, making integrating advanced CRM/CX technology with their existing systems and processes challenging. For example, some legacy systems may be incompatible with modern CRM/CX technologies or may not support the required data formats or APIs. To address these challenges, utility companies must invest in flexible and scalable IT architectures supporting advanced CRM/CX technology. They must also develop robust integration strategies, such as middleware or API gateways, to ensure data flow seamlessly between different systems and processes.
- Staff Training & Adoption: Adopting advanced CRM/CX technology often requires significant changes to existing processes and workflows, which can be challenging for staff who may resist change. Additionally, staff may require training and support to use new technologies effectively, which can be time-consuming and costly. To address these challenges, utility companies must invest in staff training and change management programs to ensure that staff is equipped with the skills and knowledge they need to use new technologies effectively. They must also involve staff in the technology adoption process, and solicit their feedback and input, to ensure that new technologies are aligned with their needs and preferences.
- Regulatory Compliance & Legal Requirements: As noted earlier, utility companies operate in a heavily regulated environment, with various regulations and standards governing their operations. Adopting advanced CRM/CX technology can introduce new regulatory and legal requirements, such as data protection and privacy regulations, which must be complied with. To address these challenges, utility companies must thoroughly understand the regulatory and legal requirements that apply to their operations and comply with them when adopting advanced CRM/CX technology. They must also invest in legal and compliance expertise to stay current with regulations and standards changes.
Based on my knowledge, adopting advanced CRM/CX technology is crucial for the utility industry to remain competitive and meet customer expectations. By implementing advanced CRM/CX technology, utility companies can improve customer satisfaction and loyalty, enhance operational efficiency and cost savings, better regulatory compliance, and increase revenue growth opportunities.
However, utility companies must also address the challenges and considerations when implementing advanced CRM/CX technology. The future of CRM/CX technology in the utility industry is exciting and it’ll be fascinating to see how utility companies leverage technology to improve customer experience in future years. If you’d like to learn more about future trends, please view this infographic.
Balaji Ramachandran, Founder and CEO of SoftClouds, wrote this article. He has over two decades of experience in technology, business development, and operations. Balaji has a solid foundation in customer relationship management for SMBs and enterprises. Utilizing his profound expertise, he has spoken at many conferences about CRM/CX and technology worldwide.
SoftClouds is a CRM, CX, and IT solutions provider based in San Diego, California. As technology trends are proliferating, organizations need to re-focus and align with the new waves to keep pace with the changing trends and technology. The professionals at SoftClouds are here to help you capture these changes through innovation and reach new heights.