Improving and maintaining utility customer satisfaction is a major priority for utility providers today – and for good reason. Customer satisfaction (CSAT) can dictate everything from call volumes and other operational efficiencies to J.D. Power scores. However, while utility organizations see the impact of their customer satisfaction (for good or for bad) daily, some providers aren’t making an important connection.
It’s true; research from that same report shows less than half of utility companies are redirecting resources toward customer experience (CX) innovations for the future. And with today’s customers becoming increasingly used to instant, intuitive consumer experiences, falling behind these CX expectations leaves the door open for increasingly dissatisfied customers.
To better understand the billing and payment preferences of today’s utility customers, as well as areas of satisfaction and dissatisfaction with their current provider, InvoiceCloud ran an online survey in August 2022. In total, we collected ~1,700 qualified responses from utility customers across the country and discovered an interesting focus on one particular moment in the customer journey.
The Most Important Moment for Utility Customers
In a 2021 study, McKinsey & Company determined the answer to that critical question: what’s the most important touchpoint in a utility customer’s journey? After surveying a sample size of utility customers on their preferences and the performance of their utility provider, the answer was resoundingly, “receive and pay my bill.”
This finding makes perfect sense. Billing and payment is a universal touchpoint, applicable to all utility customers. Even for utility providers themselves, this touchpoint determines revenue collection, service shutoffs, and much more.
Data fielded by InvoiceCloud corroborates this data point: “Receive and pay my bill” was also ranked the #1 most important touchpoint among our respondents. However, when we dug deeper into this critical touchpoint, there was an alarming disconnect.
The Least Satisfactory Utility Customer Touchpoint
After surveying over 1,700 utility customers on any dissatisfaction they have with their utility services, we found nearly half of respondents were unhappy with some aspect of their provider’s CX.
To clarify which particular experiences were causing the dissatisfaction, we next asked the unhappy 43% which touchpoints were causing their frustration. Unfortunately, that same critical touchpoint, “Receive and pay my bill,” was ranked the least satisfactory touchpoint by these respondents.
The data makes one thing clear: billing and payments hold more weight with customer satisfaction than any other point along the customer journey – for good, or for bad. For enterprise utilities, this means the billing and payment experience is a major factor in remaining a provider of choice. But for utilities of any size, a negative billing and payment expeirence can still impact critical operational efficiencies, resulting in:
- Higher call volumes
- Frequent late, mailed-in payments
- Costly print and mail expenses
- Burnt out customer service staff, and more
3 Ways to Improve Utility Customer Satisfaction
So, if “receiving and paying bills” is both the most important and least satisfactory moment for utility customers, here’s the big question: how can utilities make the most of this brief yet all-important touchpoint?
Get your free copy of our new research report, The Utility CSAT Report: Improving Satisfaction Where It Matters Most, for insights from utility customers like yours.