Anoka BalramExclusive interview with Anoka Balram, Senior Manager, Accenture Interactive in South Africa. She is part of a session on ‘Enhancing customer satisfaction in a digital world’ during the metering track at African Utility Week.

Anoka Balram’s presentation is titled ‘Delivering an enhanced utilities customer experience through social listening and digital engagement, whilst driving down costs for the utilities service provider.’ Accenture is also a returning platinum sponsor for the event.

What are some of the challenges facing the industry?
1.    Improving customer experience levels are a key agenda item, yet satisfaction levels are dropping year on year. Customer satisfaction has fallen to its lowest level since 2011 and has been on the decline over the last four years.
2.    Banks, telecoms, medical aid service providers, and SARS are all attempting to improve the way they engage and service our customers adopting digital into their strategy. Something for our utilities clients to consider.
2.    Social media is already first choice for Gen Y (globally), yet 6 in 10 contact centers have no capacity, or no integration loop from social channels to command centres and contact service agents.
3.    Analytics is key in the next five years but 40% have no capability.

What are some of the initiatives you would like to drive within the utilities sector?
1.    Develop a customer centric strategy to improve overall customer satisfaction and sentiment within the utilities sector.
2.    Use analytics to create a single view of the customer and offer a consistent seamless service experience across all channels.
3.    Bring innovation to contact centres using experience design methodologies to improve efficiencies, reduce costs, and improve customer’s emotional low points.
4.    Keep the Generation Y customers in mind when designing for the future.

What message will you like to leave behind?
As utilities service providers, we know our customers’ sentiments, but the real question is what are we doing about it?

Our customers expect to be engaged with. Customers expect a speedy response time so close the feedback loop.

Even if we can’t solve the problem, at least engage our customers and let them know what they can expect.

Ten years ago there were no smart phone apps, web chats, social media and very little email. Only 2% of brands are responding to twitter queries. Today Gen Y will use their voice call as a last resort. They are the future. So incorporate digital channels into your overall engagement and customer service strategy as soon as possible.

(Source: 2015 Global Contact Centre Benchmark Report, Dimension Data)