This post was originally published on EnergySavvy’s website. EnergySavvy is now Uplight.
Billing inquiries are the #1 issue for customers calling into utility call centers. And many of these inquiries are from customers who aren’t able to pay their bills or need a little extra financial help during extremely hot or cold weather. Given this need and the associated service costs, many utilities are increasingly focused on better serving low- to moderate-income, or LMI, customers (sometimes also called income-eligible).
However, reaching and enrolling LMI customers can be more complicated than other types of initiatives. Qualification for each program can be based on a range of criteria, the data for which is likely spread across multiple, siloed utility systems and databases. For most utilities, if a customer calls in seeking financial assistance, it can be impossible for a utility CSR to know—from a list of initiatives—which one is the best to recommend, without knowledge of their their situation or a lengthy discussion.
This group of programs and offers creates a unique set of challenges experienced by multiple departments across a utility from marketing to program management to customer care. These challenges include:
- Challenging digital customer engagement due to the lack of reliable connectivity
- Increasing customer service costs to support the call center–a critical channel for LMI customers.
- A wide range of offerings, programs, rates, and eligibility requirements
- Tedious application processes–sometimes completed by outside agencies
- Paperwork overload due to highly manual administration processes
- Customer disengagement from the utility–resulting in arrears
Fortunately, utilities can not only address these common issues, but can also personalize interactions for each customer by leveraging a modern Utility Customer Experience (UCX) and Workflow Automation technology. These solution suites enable utilities to identify the right customer for the right LMI offers(s), make it easy for customers to enroll, and streamline the project process so that they start benefiting right away.