Can billing become an effective communication tool for energy companies?
Until a few years ago, utility bills—electricity, gas, water, telephone bills—were known for being long, confusing, and often incomprehensible. The old paper bill, delivered via the mailbox, was one of the few points of contact between Utility and Energy companies and their customers. It was a formal and unidirectional communication, a touchpoint that often was a source of friction and irritation. Any problems or questions concerning the bill would require a call to customer service, often incurring long wait times, initiate resolution.
However, this was considered completely normal for the sector, a sort of “necessary evil. But things are changing.
The Utility market has become crowded with new players. Keywords and brand identity have changed. The user is the true gravitational center of the business model and the challenge lies largely in increasing customer retention. This is an increasingly complicated challenge, given the ease of being able to move from one operator to another. As a result, every slippery and potentially problematic touchpoint must be managed and monitored with the utmost care.
In other words: everything is about the quality, simplicity and effectiveness of your customer care services. This is where you can gain (or lose) competitive advantage.
According to a survey conducted by Gartner in 2017, 81% of marketers expect customer experience to be the key marketing challenge over the next three years.
Energy billing as a tool of communication in the Utility sector
These factors are all valid for most types of business, but they are essential for the Utility Industry, which deals with the sale and distribution of raw materials that impact the daily lives of most people.
The added value, in fact, lies in the users and on how you are able to intercept them, to involve them, to retain them, and to offer them additional services: and this is true both for large companies, start-ups, and new players.
The energy billing service is an effective communication tool for every company, both large and small.
Francesco Starace, CEO of Enel, identified digitalization and customer services as two key themes for the company’s 2018-2020 strategic plan. The multinational company, which has its roots in Italy, has chosen Doxee as partner since 2013. Doxee itself places document digitalization, personalization, and a customer-oriented approach in the center of its business. Its CCM services have been valid and powerful allies also for the energy company’s entry in the vast and complex South American market.
Engie, one of the 10 largest energy companies in the world, with a presence in 70 countries, has also chosen Doxee for digitization for its energy billing services with the aim of producing smart, interactive, dynamic, and multichannel bills. Fastweb and A2A are also customers since 2016.
So: today, the energy billing is back to play a central role but in a completely new way.
A bill is now a tool for communication, building loyalty to establishing a company’s brand identity. Ultimately, the energy billing service is an opportunity to create added value (also through the inclusion of a specific call to action, cross-selling and upselling strategies).
Here are three reasons that a new customer bill is a powerful tool for marketing and customer care.
1. Be multichannel (and aim for omnichannel)
Consumers today use an average of three different payment methods every month, from payments made in person to mobile apps, according to the Seventh Annual Billing Household Survey” by Fiserv.
Today the options for payment and receipt of invoices and bills have multiplied, a welcome change for customers. A wide range of choices leads to greater customer satisfaction. Having a multichannel approach – and even better, an omnichannel approach – has become a must for businesses and it’s now what the customer expects.
If in 2011 only 6% of Americans paid their bills via smartphone, in 2015 this percentage rose to around 33%. Today we are 42% (data). The trend is clear and it’s global.
Last but not least, adopting a multi-channel approach allows the company to collect more accurate and deep data on its customers, which is invaluable for influencing the customer journey and for providing dynamic and customized customer care, which is rewarded by greater customer loyalty and future business (i.e. revenue) from customers.
2. Personalized energy billing service – The boost of personalization
Personalization is the last frontier of customer care. It combines the most advanced technological tools with personalization–: addressing each person in a different way, knowing their characteristics, behaviors, and needs.
Gathering data on the user allows you to create communications that are tailored to the customer and their requirements. One-to-one communication, in short, is enormously more effective than one-to-many communication. That’s why 78% of Chief Marketing Officers believe that “custom” content, tailored to the user, is the future for the industry (source: Clicz).
Billing and invoicing services offered by Doxee to Enel, Engie, Fastweb and A2A, in addition to being interactive and multichannel, also exploit the power of personalization.
Federica Roscio, Customer Experience Manager of Fastweb Group, said: “We have been working with Doxee for years. And our digital account, created with them, was preceded by a business simulation that involved 150 thousand customers and produced excellent results. The invoice is a touchpoint to be lived in the round with many editorial spaces that, unlike other platforms, allow you to talk to the individual customer. The advantage for Fastweb? We are more effective in cross-selling and up-selling.”
3. Exploit the power of video – the video billing service
The gas, electricity and telephone bills are no longer just paper documents.
The energy billing service today must be an interactive touchpoint, an opportunity for one-to-one communication between company and customer. A moment of dialogue full of opportunities, useful for boosting loyalty and to increase revenue per customer through specific calls to action, cross-selling and up-selling actions. And it must be as multichannel, dynamic, and tailored as possible.
This can all be enhanced by exploiting the means of communication that is most effective: video.
55% of people pay more attention to video than any other type of content (source: OmniKick). When viewing a video, the average user retains 95% of the message it contains; for text, this percentage falls down to 10% (source: Wirebuzz).
So, it’s no wonder that Forbes defines personalized videos as “the definitive marketing breakthrough that brands need.”
And companies in the Utility sector also need of it. The most important, and the most advanced, are already using video-bill projects, often personalized, with their customers.
In this way, the customer can pay the current bill, review past bills, and interact with the company directly from his smartphone in a simple and transparent way. This brings significant results in terms of engagement, customer satisfaction and – therefore – loyalty.
Discover the value of video marketing, personalized customer care, and new digital revolution tools for the Energy & Utilities sector. Download the eBook: