The Utility Built for the Millennial Blog Header

 
The millennial generation homeownership rate has increased faster than that of other generations, with 47.9% of millennials now owning homes, and that number is still rising . 30% of millennials pushed up their intent to own a home due to the pandemic, making them a significant fraction of  utilities’ customer base.  The  m illennial generation is defined as those born between the years of 198 2  and 199 8.  Th e   impact  this generation  has  had  in  t ransforming t he transportation, shopping , and  television industries  is already clear :   J ust look to the widespread use of ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft, the massive success of Amazon or the demise of video rental stores.  Understanding how  millennials  think  and what they expect  from customer  service  is  key  to  a  successful  future for utilities ,  particularly as they face critical infrastructure investments which often necessitate publicly approved rate increases
 
G rowing up in the age of  internet
Millennials  came of age  during the internet explosion, strongly shaping their connection to instant ly  access ible  information and  their  expect ations on how   people   communicate and interact with each other. The  concept of the internet  was realized in 1969, and in 1972 electronic mail (e-mail) was introduced. The World Wide Web then went live to the world in August of 1991 , when the oldest millennials were just 9 years old .  Millennials have not known a world without access to computers, the internet and digital communication channels.
 
Millennials have   always  been leaders in the   adoption and use of technology. In fact, Millennials are  2.5 times more likely to be early adopter s  of technology than other generations. More than  nine-in-ten  millennials (92%) own smartphones  and 85% of millennials say they use social media. This attachment to technology and the internet has a strong  influence  on how millennials expect their utilities  to communicate with them 41% of millennials  say they prefer  electronic  communicat ions  rather than face to face or  telephony . The traditional channels through which utilities have  used to  communicat e   with  their customers are costly undertakings and are increasingly futile; sending mail, hanging messages on doors, and fielding numerous customer support calls amount to high operational costs and  appear  archaic  with  customers used to having a wealth of information at their fingertips. Utilities must harness  multi-channel customer engagement platforms  to proactively identify customer needs, provide digital means for customers to send and receive critical information, and to save money.
 
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Millennials want to do it themselves
Serving this new generation  of customers requires utilities to think hard about an uncomfortable subject:  W here human employees are helpful to customers and where they may get in the way. Millennial customers have proven that they often want people out of the way where possible, as they have grown used to the way technology can reduce the need for ‘human gatekeepers’.  69% of millennials  say they feel good about themselves and a company when they are able to solve a problem without having to contact customer service centers.  Water utilities report that around 10% of customer calls are leak-related and around 22% of customer service time is spent dealing with customers with leak complaints.  Technologically driven  automated leak resolution workflows, personalized to a household’s water use,  is  one such way utilities can  em power customers  with self-service tools to address potential problems Glenview, IL found that by implementing WaterSmart’s automated leak alerting and resolution solution  they were able to drive their customers to self-resolve and save approximately 10 hours a week of staff time to focus on higher value projects. 
 
Despite a recognized need to cut down on unproductive customer calls and improve the overall customer service experience, WaterSmart found that  almost 40% of utilities  rarely or never utilize self-service tools like WaterSmart’s leak alerting and resolution system to resolve customer issues online. Many utilities are behind in adopting  technologies  that can reduce inbound calls in the first place .   T his is  where  to begin. Modern customer self-service platforms  use artificial intelligence to  proactively identify customer needs and  offer  digital tools to help customers prioritize and resolve the most common issues (high bills) without relying on a call center interaction.  WaterSmart’s Bill Explainer system  uses advanced machine learning to identify likely causes of bill amounts and walks customers through a simple  step- process to answer questions and help manage water spend, reducing customer support costs and boosting customer satisfaction .
 
The green generation
According to  World Economic Forum’s 2017 Global Shaper Survey   nearly 50 % of surveyed millennials ranked climate change and the destruction of nature the most serious global issue ;   Accenture found that almost 80%  of millennials would be more satisfied if their utility offered a tool to track usage and suggest customized products and services.  Millennial customers clearly value natural resources,  reducing  the  need  to educate customers on the value of water.  J.D. Power’s 2015 Consumer Engagement study  has already shown that millennials are more engaged with programs provided by their utility that allow them to take control over their usage and be hands-on with their data. Utilities providing ways for customers to track their water usage online will benefit from measurable  satisfaction  improvements. Insight into how a customer’s usage compares to similar households and personalized recommendations on how to reduce usage  has proven effective  in improving water-use efficiency by  up to  5% and increasing customer satisfaction by 25%. 
 
Utilities  have an opportunity to  work with  their growing  millennial  customer base  to ad o pt products and services that will  bring  communication  online , reduce costs, and  help to better manage precious  water  resources And while some people may believe there is plenty of time to prepare for these millennial customers due to their  infatuation with avocado toast , utilities  are well served by   putting  systems in place now  to meet  this generation’s expectations. 
 

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