Altamonte Springs, FL – Digital technology underpins almost every aspect of our lives. Mobile phones and social media are now inextricably woven into our culture; from scrolling Instagram to sending Skype messages, today we primarily communicate using tools that were beyond imagination just a decade ago.
Until recently, many utility companies were reluctant to confront this digital transformation. Customers were typically satisfied with hearing as little as possible from their water or power provider, but a new generation of users and the wider adoption of connected devices has disrupted this traditional relationship. Online access to information is a part of evolving customer demand for more dynamic, two-way communication with their utility provider.
Taking this into consideration, Utilities, Inc. of Florida has partnered with Smart Energy Water to develop MyUtilityConnect: our new mobile app and customer web portal. With MyUtilityConnect, users can sign up for bill reminders, report service outages and receive planned outage notifications, view their current and historical usage data, access their account information and process payments. Also featured are tips on how to reduce water consumption and develop better water usage habits. By meeting users where they are – online and on their phones – we can provide more efficient, accessible and transparent customer care.
John Hoy, President of Utilities, Inc. of Florida, announced the launch of the new program. “We’ve heard from our customers, and we know that they have come to expect better communication portals. We need to have capabilities that connect us in real-time. Providing safe, reliable service is extremely important to us, as is connecting with our customers and their communities. MyUtilityConnect will allow us to have that opportunity,” he said.
MyUtilityConnect is a convenient, single-window digital solution. It leverages the benefits of both availability and personalization; options within the portal and mobile app allow customers to choose the levels of support they need and modify their experience accordingly. From the app and portal, it’s possible to make a payment securely at any time of day or monitor the status of a service outage via GPS. Push notification alerts reduce information “shocks”, diminishing the burden on call center teams.
In today’s competitive utility environment there is a clear opportunity for improving customer service with mobile offerings. In a 2017 JD Power survey, satisfaction with customer service delivered via mobile app ranked higher than any other digital method.
“While use of mobile apps from utility companies is still relatively low, usage is clearly on the rise, reflecting the increasingly mobile nature in which customers interact with their utility,” said Andrew Heath, senior director of the utility and infrastructure practice at J.D. Power. “Expectations are set by industries like financial services that have made mobile account access essential tools for customers. It’s important for utilities to understand how customers want to communicate with them and, in turn, customize their apps and websites to meet those needs.”
Leesa Lee, head of marketing for Bidgely, a utility data disaggregator and smart phone app provider, agrees. “Most utilities have to start building engagement, and personalized information, tips, and alerts through an app is a great way to do it,” she said.
Self-service via mobile app or web portal offers another layer of benefits, not just for the customer, but for the utility company as well. Each click is a chance to build a better understanding of our customer base. Gathering a range of quantifiable metrics, the MyUtilityConnect analytics module is a framework for measuring levels of customer interaction, interest, and engagement in the tools available to them. With this information in hand we are equipped to pursue more initiatives that generate real value for customers.
Customers today have higher expectations for their utility providers and prefer engagement through digital channels. Offering user-specific information on the MyUtilityConnect app and web portal can help customer trust and satisfaction with our services. As we move into the first phase of launching this new tool, we are excited to take a meaningful step towards delivering a long-term digital solution that our customers value and employees can be proud of.
About Utilities Inc. of Florida: Utilities Inc. of Florida provides safe, reliable and cost-effective service to customers across Florida while acting with integrity and protecting the environment. We are focused on making an impact by not only serving communities throughout Florida but being an active partner in those communities.