Does a Utility Self-Service Portal Actually Save Resources?

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Written by: Ali Barsamian

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Self-service is an absolute necessity for the modern consumer. Today’s utility customers have high expectations when it comes to online service. They want to accomplish tasks such as paying bills, exploring the likely drivers of their bill amount, or viewing payment histories in a utility self-service portal without directly calling their provider.

 

That’s why establishing a user-friendly, self-service solution is imperative for utility providers, offering transparency and convenience for users. A self-service portal allows customers to directly view their current usage and pay bills online—with no hidden motives or wait times—so long as they have a reliable internet connection.

Preferences of modern consumers have changed dramatically in the past decade.  In 2020, more than 255 million U.S. adults—or 88 percent of the country’s population—turned to the convenience of e-commerce to make purchases. 

Access to technology has drastically altered the dynamics of business-to-consumer relationships. If a customer enjoys the simplified checkout process or instant chat feature used on their favorite clothing brand’s website, they now expect to have the same user experience when accessing their online banking or utility information. 

A recent survey found that 70 percent of customers expect a company’s website to include some form of self-service. This means that a convenient, efficient online customer experience is expected across all industries, shifting the balance of power from businesses to consumers. 

That shift is undoubtedly impacting utility customers, who prefer signing in to an online self-service portal to get the information they’re looking for. This also gives them flexibility—instead of dialing in to their utility with tedious wait times, self-service billing is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

 

3 Benefits of Utility Self-Service Portals

For utilities, offering a user-friendly, self-service portal provides many benefits, including: 

 

1. Proactive Problem Solving

Instead of turning to customer support specialists for help, modern consumers prefer solving problems on their own. Self-service billing portals give them the tools to do so, offering quick, efficient ways to find solutions. 

Through their utility’s portal, a registered customer can update their profile, view billing details, access payment histories, set up automatic or future payment arrangements, chat with a customer support specialist, and enroll to receive text alerts and notifications for things like unplanned usage, leaks, or high bills.

 

2. Convenience and Accessibility

No need to worry about calling during certain hours—with their utility’s self-service portal, customers have 24/7 access to information, such as targeted announcements from the utility, current usage, previous bills, or payment histories.

 

3. Saved Time and Resources

By reducing call volume, mail payment processing, and usage verification, self-service solutions save time and resources. This allows customer support staff to spend more time on complex customer issues, and less on issues that can be easily resolved. And because customers can find the information they need using self-service accounts, they also save their own time.

 

Improve Your Customer Experience

An efficient, user-friendly self-service portal greatly benefits utility companies, saving valuable resources and meeting the needs of modern customers. VertexOne can help utilities deliver a seamless and convenient customer experience, driving your business forward. 

Interested in learning more? Click here to watch our webinar, “Using Data to Inform Digital Tactics and Improve Customer Engagement.”

Ali Barsamian, VP of Marketing, oversees VertexOne’s marketing activities and works closely aligned with the Sales and Business Development teams.

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