Graphic showing Magic 8 Ball prediction: Signs Point to Yes

As promised in the blog post we originally published last week, today we published our compendious and much-anticipated Omnichannel Survey report! In it you’ll find revealing insights and actionable advice. All signs point to yes that it will inform your strategy to deliver an omnichannel customer experience. Read on to learn more.

Who doesn’t remember playing with a Magic 8 Ball as a child, patiently staring into the mysterious toy for what felt like an eternity and waiting for guidance? OK, maybe I still rely on my own Magic 8 Ball from time to time, but only for the really important life decisions.

For utilities moving into the world of omnichannel and facing some important customer experience decisions, we know it can feel like rolling the dice or blindly looking for answers in a Magic 8 Ball. E Source’s inaugural utility industry omnichannel study provides insights into the health and integration of eight communication channels and presents an overall omnichannel perspective informed by responses from residential customers, electric utilities, and gas utilities across North America. With a little bit of help from our trusty advisor the Magic 8 Ball, we’re making a few data-driven customer experience predictions that we gleaned from our data-rich Omnichannel Survey 2015, recently published for members.

Outlook Is Good for Online Chat

Graphic showing a Magic 8 Ball predicting:

Almost one-third of customer respondents have recently used online chat to interact with companies. In contrast to utility respondents who rated online chat as the least important channel out of the eight channels asked about in the omnichannel survey, customers believe that it’s relatively important for a company to use online chat to interact with them. Customer respondents rate online chat to be more important on average than mobile apps, text messages, or social media. According to customers, online chat also ranks second out of eight channels when it comes to first-contact resolution, and third in terms of quality of service received. Allowing customers to seamlessly interact with a utility representative while trying to accomplish tasks online is an effective strategy to cut down on costly follow-up calls to the contact center.

Cannot Predict the Future of Mobile Apps

Graphic showing a Magic 8 Ball predicting:

Utilities must provide a user-friendly mobile experience, knowing that about two-thirds of customer respondents are accessing the Internet via mobile phone or smartphone. Regardless of the mobile path that a utility chooses, the focus should be on creating a mobile-friendly experience that allows customers to move seamlessly across devices and contact channels. Mobile apps likely appeal most strongly to younger age groups and those who want to accomplish a particular task quickly, usually while on the go or while multitasking on their mobile device. Respondents age 18 to 34 are significantly more likely than those age 35 and up to say they have recently used a company’s mobile app. However, results suggest that many customers think of websites (accessed via desktop computers, laptops, or mobile phones) as being crucially important for companies to have, but they think mobile apps may or may not be as necessary.

It Is Certain That Websites Are Sticking Around

Graphic showing Magic 8 Ball prediction:

The website channel is universally offered by utilities and widely used by customers. Compared to newer traditional channels, websites are well established in terms of strategy and integration into an omnichannel experience. The website is the most-used channel by customers with their utility and should act as a central location where customers can self-serve, update preferences, and access information about other channels they can use to interact with companies.

From the Omnichannel Survey 2015, we’ve been able to determine that residential customers and utilities agree on the high importance of omnichannel experience indicators such as consistency, seamlessness, preferences, and integration. Whether utilities rely on a Magic 8 Ball or customer data to make decisions, they must anticipate how customers with a wide variety of preferences and needs might want to communicate with them for any particular interaction and strategize specific channel offerings accordingly.