Utility companies are failing to communicate with customers

In terms of personal data, utility companies have greater access to consumers than ever before, yet the majority of UK customers still feel they are being left in the dark, according to a survey of 2,486 UK consumers from Quadient.

With 91% of consumers willing to switch provider, many believe that the days of large, traditional utility companies are numbered. For Quadient, getting the basics right is a vital first step on delivering a complete digital experience. Even a relatively simple technology such as text messaging can provide a huge difference in the quality of experience for customers that increasingly want a conversation with their provider.

  • Fewer than a quarter (23%) believe their utility providers did enough to contact them the last time services were disrupted, while 43% have already stopped using traditional providers in favour of an alternative provider or are planning to.
  • 69% would switch utility provider because they found a cheaper alternative, other factors that would drive consumers to switch included inaccurate billing (44%), data breaches or security issues (33%), poor communication (30%), interrupted service (28%) and companies’ environmental record (20%).
  • Consumers are clear about what technology utilities companies should be using as part of their customer experience. The most popular technologies were smart meters (44%), text messaging and chat (41%) and mobile apps (40%).

As new utility companies offer incentives such as a more personal service, and companies like IKEA aim to draw consumers’ attention with switching services, treating customers purely as an anonymous resource is a recipe for losing business. Companies must look at what consumers are demanding and find a way to meet – and ideally exceed – their needs, delivering a first-class customer experience. At the very least, if a provider has promised it will make use of customers’ data, it needs to not only use that data, but make the benefits highly visible to the customer themselves. Failure to do this will simply breed resentment.

Mustafa Atik, Utilities Expert at Quadient