Most traditional utility software is proprietary, meaning that it’s developed, operated, and used by the same utility it serves. Many utility providers have been running the same customer information system (CIS) for decades, and overhauling it would be a massive and complex task.
Unfortunately, this lack of innovation often means the utility and the community it serves will suffer. Today’s customers have higher standards—they demand the same convenience across every online experience, from shopping to banking to paying their utility bills. Outdated technology can struggle to keep up with consumer expectations and the ever-evolving needs of utility providers, creating more work for the utility and more frustration for the customer.
Digital transformation for utility companies has created scalable, reliable, and cloud-based options. The right utility CIS can:
- Offer real-time alerts for service outages and issues faced by individuals or businesses in the community.
- Provide a comprehensive self-service portal for customers to report issues, make account changes, update personal preferences, and more.
- Utilize smart or automated meter reading to ensure more accurate readings and streamline work orders for field technicians.
- Make personalized recommendations to customers based on their location, income, needs, preferences, and more.
How can digital transformation help utility companies?
There are more than a few benefits of digitally transforming your utility. Below are a few specifics, but at a basic level, your customer expects a digital experience and many others are not only enjoying a better customer experience but also clearer internal processes from better data.
1. Convenience and Security
More utility providers are shifting from on-premises utility billing systems to cloud-based solutions. Cloud storage gives utilities the ability to troubleshoot issues and save data digitally, allowing them to move information between systems with seamless integration.
A cloud-based system also helps utilities automate processes and provide self-service solutions to resolve common customer issues. This is accomplished by digitizing and automating tasks that were once manual and prone to errors.
The improved convenience of cloud storage can lead to security-related issues surrounding customer data. Utility billing solutions providers like VertexOne protect sensitive customer data by focusing on resiliency and disaster recovery. As digital threats continue to escalate, utilities must adapt and stay current on cybersecurity training and protective measures. A third-party cloud service provider can take on these responsibilities, allowing the utility to focus on the community it serves.
2. Customer Satisfaction
Digital transformation for utilities can improve meter readings, customer service processes, and self-service options, helping providers understand what their customers want. Using consumers’ preferred communication methods (e.g., emails, phone calls, text messages), utilities can provide consumption insights, monthly bills, utility announcements, and outage alerts.
This leads to fewer complaints, lower call volumes, and better two-way communication between consumers and utilities.
3. Seamless Employee Adoption
Ever-changing federal and state mandates, COVID-19 protocols, and environmental initiatives force utilities to think long term and plan for possible disruptions, unexpected service demands, and emergencies. This means that utility employees must be trained, prepared, and informed.
Unsure of how your staff will adapt to the new challenges of an increasingly digital workplace? Billing solution providers that understand digital evolution can assist with this process through comprehensive staff training and continuous hands-on support.
4. Improved ROI with Data
The right data helps utilities gain deeper insights into the needs of their customers. Machine learning and artificial intelligence help utility providers learn how customers interact with their offerings. This can lead to more effective resource allocation, saving the utility money and time by boosting efficiency across investments and operations.
Utilities accumulate large amounts of data throughout the customer lifecycle. Machine learning allows providers to gather, store, and analyze multiple types of data—from smart meter readings to personal preferences—leading to improved customer recommendations in the future.
Start your utility’s digital transformation today.
Gain buy-in from your employees, learn how to support strategic objectives, and more by downloading our Ultimate Utility Customer Information System (CIS) Guide. This comprehensive guide includes self-assessments and worksheets to help you understand your utility’s current needs. Get started today.