What would a New Year be without a resolution or two?

Your personal New Year's resolutions may include getting in better shape or cutting monthly expenses. But your utility should probably focus on getting in better shape, too — especially when it comes to customer engagement and satisfaction.

To help out, we've created a relevant and achievable New Year's Resolution for your utility for 2017:

“In the New Year, I resolve to give my utility customers a better customer experience by engaging them more and meeting, or beating, their expectations.”

Here are some specific resolutions that will get you there.

Resolved: I will listen more to my customers

When customers reach out to you, they want to be heard. Despite the growth of email and chat, the most popular and data-rich customer service channel is still the call center. So let’s resolve to listen more closely to what they are telling you.

To start with, most call management solutions allow for a single call disposition. Thus, when customers call about multiple issues at once, the additional information is lost. Speech analysis can capture and report on all the issues your customers are calling about. In addition, customers’ words and phrases often imply more than they actually say. By analyzing the customer’s speech, we can understand their level of frustration or satisfaction throughout the call.

VertexOne Speech Analytics is built specifically for the utilities industry, and understands the terms utility customers use most when they call. It correlates detailed call data at the macro-level, identifying opportunities for improvements. For example, using language, pauses, and subtle variations in tone and volume, it can report which services cause the highest customer frustrations—meaning higher call volumes and cost of service. It can also analyze the CSR’s responses, providing insights into potential improvements in call center operations. Armed with hard data, management can then build the business cases for making needed improvements.

Resolved: I will watch out for my customers

You monitor your service area for outages and disruptions for all your customers. But each customer needs to feel they are important as an individual. This year, resolve to watch out for your customers’ needs, whether or not they are even aware of them.

Take a water leak, for example. Leaks can develop beyond the customer’s meter at any time, behind walls, under foundations, in a sprinkler system. Unfortunately, they can lie hidden long before a customer notices. Proactive leak detection, like our Leak Detection Analytics, uses sophisticated algorithms on current and past consumption data, detecting probable leaks within hours, instead of days or weeks. No more unpleasant surprises on a monthly water bill for the customer, and far less chance of damage to the premise. Either way, your customers are happier, knowing you’ve got their backs.

Resolved: I will be here for my customers

Traditional support channels are still very much alive, but web and mobile devices are pervasive. A growing number of today’s customers want more electronic access and less peopled interactions. In 2017, resolve to be there for your customer, via whatever channel they prefer to use.

Online self-service, when done well, means a better customer experience. Self-service is now far more than online bill payment, it’s every conceivable interaction and transaction a customer wants to have with your utility. These 24/7 channels include mobile-friendly websites, mobile apps, social media, live chat and more. With a solution like VertexOne Web & Mobile Self-Service, your utility can interact with your customers, whenever, however and from wherever they prefer.

Resolved: I will do more for the environment

Many of today’s utility customers are concerned about the environment. They want to know they are doing their part, using renewable energy, being energy efficient or conserving natural resources. In the New Year, resolve to support them in the causes they care about.

Not every customer has these concerns, though, and promoting such programs (or any other special program) at large is expensive. It’s much better to send enrollment invitations to those likely to accept them. It makes the customer feel good about themselves (and your utility). Plus, it makes the best use of your marketing budget. Predictive analytics—like VertexOne Predictive Analytics for Utility Customer Enrollment—will let you precision-target those customers for your 2017 enrollments, whatever the program may be.

Make them happier in 2017 with an upgraded customer experience

Thankfully, boosting your customer experience in 2017 isn’t as hard as sticking to that new diet and exercise program. At Vertex, everything we do is centered on building, hosting and supporting solutions that help you upgrade your utility—and your customers—to happier. That’s been our top resolution for 20 years, and we see no reason to change it now.

So, let’s welcome in the New Year. Together we can upgrade your utility’s customer experience to happier.