What’s the Future for Customer Feedback for the Utility Sector

What’s the Future for Customer Feedback for the Utility Sector

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Customer experience is increasingly being identified as the main competitive differentiator for businesses and this is no different for the future of customer feedback in utility sector. But many studies show that energy providers and utilities are achieving significantly low levels of satisfaction and even more worrying, making key decisions on incorrect data.  In fact, according to the Institute of Customer Service UK Customer Satisfaction Index, Utilities scored lower than the UKCSI average and ranked as the bottom performing sector.

Many companies conduct customer experience surveys in order to identify customer satisfaction levels and tackle any issues. However, traditional customer surveys are no longer providing relevant or accurate feedback for utility companies, who are dealing with an ever-growing diversity of customers and products and services.

First, let’s take a look at some of the issues utility companies encounter with their customer feedback.

As many confirm when engaging VIRTUATell, Utility customer experience surveys are often long, late and on the wrong contact channels so they are increasingly receiving lower and lower response rates. This essentially means that utility companies are having to invest more money to receive less feedback

Secondly, a lack of central control over survey invites means that many customers are being over-surveyed. As well as being a drain on resources, this can also put customers off from responding, as they feel harassed and spammed.

In addition to this, many surveys are not constructed in a customer-friendly way. For example, a time-poor customer is unlikely to complete a survey that is too long or complex. Many surveys also aren’t mobile friendly, so they can’t necessarily be completed at a time and place that works for the customer. And as customers expect to be able to discuss their utility account across a wider array of contact methods, the ability to offer omnichannel feedback solutions is vital.

Another key factor causing issues for utility companies is the validity of customer contact data, much of it being poor, incomplete, or out of date, making it difficult to even get in touch with customers in the first place.

Added to that, dealing with the impacts of seasonality makes assessing and controlling customer feedback extremely difficult. NPS rises and falls with the temperature, and requires sophisticated analysis that can differentiate between the seasonal and the more fundamental customer issues.

Critical customer data is also often kept across numerous different systems, making it time consuming and challenging to connect that data to the customer feedback. This delivers surface level results that lack the rich insights that are needed to truly understand the customer experience.

Finally, with many companies calling upon a combination of in-house teams and third party call centres to handle different types of customer service needs, creating meaningful and consistent agent KPIs and reporting that works across a variety of teams is highly complex.

So, what can Utilities do to improve their voice of the customer insights?

As we’ve seen, Utilities face a whole host of barriers and challenges when it comes to collecting accurate, insightful, and incredibly valuable customer feedback.

Therefore, they need an insight solution that includes a number of high performance, intuitive features and functions that will make collecting utility customer feedback far more effective and efficient, including:

  • Real-time omnichannel surveys that can be used to collect feedback on whichever contact point the customer prefers and at any journey point.
  • A process to centralise and merge customer knowledge with feedback results for deeper insight and a true 360 view of the customer.
  • Control over who is surveyed, on what channel, and which questions are the most relevant to their real-time experience.
  • Innovative implementation of communication tools and language that have been previously tested and proven to increase response rates.
  • Actionable insights and analytically driven alert messages in plain language.
  • All results collated and displayed in one place, with access to every level of the organisation.
  • Customer friendly feedback measurement at all stages of new product roll-out or customer journey.

VIRTUATell’s specialist utility team have been helping utility companies in Europe and the USA for over 10 years and currently conducts over 3.5m customer feedback interactions a month for Utility clients. For further information about VIRTUATell and how they could improve your current feedback methodologies, please get in touch for a free review on our Contact Page

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Are you ready for GDPR?

Are you ready for GDPR?

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The new GDPR regulations come into force on 25 May 2018. With all the false news, misleading blogs and opinions, it’s almost impossible to find out the facts and become prepared and fully compliant!

First thing’s first, what is GDPR?

GDPR stands for General Data Protection Regulation. Set to be introduced on 25 May 2018, GDPR legislation defines how European personal data must be handled by anyone that stores or processes such details.

It’s not only businesses that are based in the EU that will be affected by the introduction of GDPR – the legislation applies to all companies that handle the data of individuals residing in the EU, regardless of the company’s location. And it’s not just the originating organisation that stores their data that must be compliant – anyone down the data processing chain must also be compliant.

GDPR will affect all email marketers and failure to comply will lead to significant fines. As the European Parliament allowed 2 years for businesses to comply with the new regulations, there’s no excuse for not having the necessary procedures and protocol in place by the time the legislation is introduced. The clock is ticking!

What data is covered by GDPR?

Any personal data such as the names, addresses, phone numbers, IP addresses, email addresses, and pictures of EU citizens is covered by GDPR. This means, if you use email marketing, CX feedback surveys or direct mail, or you have a call centre that deals with EU customers, you must be compliant, whether you’re based in the EU, the US, or anywhere else around the world.

Who needs to be GDPR compliant?

The new GDPR legislation applies to:

  • Businesses in the EU that control or process any personal data directly, or on behalf of other clients.
  • Businesses anywhere in the world that control or process the personal data of European citizens, regardless of where they live or where the company is based.

Essentially, if your company is based in the European Union, or it is based elsewhere but deals with the data of EU citizens, you need to ensure you’re fully GDPR compliant or face heavy fines.

Which countries are classed as EU countries?

There are 28 countries within the EU: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungry, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and the UK. GDPR applies to citizens of these 28 countries, wherever they live in the world.

So, if any of your clients are EU citizens, even if they now live abroad and in a non-EU country, GDPR will still apply to them and anyone handling their data will need to be compliant by May 2018.

What happens if I don’t comply with GDPR legislation?

If you fail to comply with GDPR, your business could face a fine of up to 20 Million Euros

The implications of you, or one of your suppliers, not complying with EU privacy laws have always been stringent but the GDPR fines have been significantly increased and would have a huge impact if your business was fined. Quite obviously, it is incredibly important that you ensure all aspects of your business processes – and those of your suppliers – are fully compliant.

What does GDPR mean for any CX feedback service?

The problem has been that there are countless email survey services online and, whilst some are reputable, many are not. From May 26th 2018, many in fact, will actually be operating illegally.

With the introduction of GDPR, it’s more important than ever that you only work with a fully compliant CX Feedback survey service, or you too could face a huge fine!

In order to remain fully compliant, before sharing your customers’ data with any such service, you must consider the following:

Are you dealing with a legitimate business?

Take the time to research the company you’re dealing with. Is the company registered in the EU? Are they registered outside the EU? What name are they registered under? Do they comply with GDPR regulations when handling your data? Having a quick scan of their website isn’t enough, it just isn’t worth the risk!

Do you have a written contract in place?

It’s important that there is a contract in place outlining the responsibilities and liabilities of both parties. Ultimately, you are responsible for the compliance of the CX feedback service, so make sure that you only appoint a supplier service company that can provide sufficient guarantees that the requirements of GDPR will be met at all times. Ensure you see their GDPR paperwork as well, before handing over any data.

Does your CX feedback service have the relevant privacy and data protection policies in place?

Make sure you only employ the services of CX feedback service that have public policies in place, as well as an assigned individual who is responsible for data protection.

As a general rule, if you aren’t 100% clear exactly who you’re dealing with and what policies they have in place, it’s safer not to deal with them at all. After all, you will be responsible for explaining why you passed on personal data to them, without the necessary assurances.

Does the service company have an appointed data protection officer?

Any business that conducts large-scale personal data processing, must have a named Data Protection Officer in place. This applies to all CX feedback companies, or any business that offers this service. Only companies with appointed Data Protection Officers are permitted to process EU data.

Is any data you hand over for processing, covered by a GDPR compliant processing document?

Any professional CX feedback supplier that handles your data on your behalf, should document exactly what they have agreed to do with your data, before, during and after they have processed the data. Typically, that will include a statement that some or all of the data will be Pseudonymised, Anonymised or Redacted. Be very careful of anyone who cannot supply such capabilities as part of their service.

Is a US-based supplier with Privacy Shield certification covered?

Although Privacy Shield allows US companies to self certify for European Data Protection laws, it doesn’t guarantee that a they comply with GDPR, and this doesn’t look as though it will change anytime soon.

According to the European Commission, Privacy Shield still needs to address a number of serious areas before it can be considered GDPR compliant, namely:

  • Must prevent false self-certification
  • Must raise public awareness of how to exercise their rights
  • Needs to develop closer co-operation between privacy enforcers
  • Must appoint a Privacy Shield Ombudsman

So, if you’re looking for a company to provide CX feedback services, or you’re currently working with a provider in the US, be aware that Privacy Shield certification doesn’t mean they are GDPR compliant.

Are you confident that your CX feedback service is fully compliant with GDPR?

In the eyes of the law, you are responsible for ensuring that your supplier is fully GDPR complaint. Don’t hand over any personal data until you are 100% satisfied that this is the case. After all, it is your company that will be fined in the event of a GDPR breach after 25 May 2018.

As a general guide, if a CX feedback provider is based in the EU, has a comprehensive data protection policy, and has a dedicated Data Protection Officer, you should be confident to proceed.

If you’re using a non-EU provider, you should ensure that either the country they’re based in follows EU data protection standards OR the company itself is fully compliant with GDPR legislation.

Here at VIRTUATell, we’re fully compliant…

At VIRTUATell, we’ve always taken the security of our clients’ data seriously, and we’re fully compliant with GDPR. So you can rest assured that your data will be safe, secure, and used only in line with the very latest EU regulations.

For further information about GDPR and how we adhere to the new regulations, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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Measuring the Customer Experience: How VIRTUATell can help

Measuring the Customer Experience: How VIRTUATell can help

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COPC Standards are a collection of performance management systems that enable businesses to measure and improve their operational activities that support the customer experience.

Since they were introduced in 1996, COPC standards have acted as a benchmark for customer-based service operations.

COPC Standards provide stringent guidelines for customer interaction. Within a contact centre environment, companies must demonstrate they are up to the mark when it comes to service (the speed of the interaction from a customer perspective) as well as quality (whether the transaction was handled correctly on the first attempt).

Adhering to COPC Standards can offer a whole host of benefits to businesses across various sectors, including reduced costs, improved revenue, improved service and quality, and increased customer satisfaction.

And, with the COPC Family of Standards currently being used in over 70 countries, this is a truly globally accepted performance management system that sets the standards whilst driving a consistent industry vocabulary.

How can VIRTUATell help?

If you want to improve your company’s customer service operations, you first need to measure them. Our omni-channel CX feedback surveys will allow you to measure your performance against COPCs standards and ensure providing the optimum level of service to your customers.

Under COPC Standards, Customer Service Providers are analysed against a series of performance factors known as Key Customer Related Processes. To analyse levels of service, these KCRPs utilise metrics such as speed of answer, abandonment rate, escalation rate, contact resolution, sales, and volume.

Our innovative, automated, multi-channel, real-time customer satisfaction solution will allow you to collect and monitor customer feedback, enhancing your level of service, and allowing you to get the metrics that COPC require if you’re looking to obtain certification.

We’ll also help you to optimise response rates, delivering your feedback questions in a totally customer-focussed way across multiple channels.

Once your data has been collected, we’ll provide clear, meaningful reports that present your data in a way that is accessible and easy to understand to everyone within your organisation.

Of course, collecting data is fruitless if it doesn’t allow you to implement meaningful change in response. At VIRTUATell, we make your feedback actionable, focusing on real-time feedback, using real-time alerts, response triggers, and data feeds into your other systems to show that you are responsive. This means we can give your customers feedback on how you responded to their feedback – increasing engagement and loyalty.

For more information about how we can help you maintain and measure COPC customer experience standards, please get in touch – we’re always happy to help.

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Alternative to Survey Monkey

Alternative to Survey Monkey

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If you’re interested in customer feedback, there’s probably a good chance that you’ll have come across Survey Monkey somewhere along the line. They’re one of the better known businesses operating in the customer feedback sector but, here at VIRTUATell, we’re sure that we can offer a far superior service.

While Survey Monkey offer a cheap, web-based service that boasts access to a large selection of self-service features, there’s a number of drawbacks to their product. Firstly, the low entry price masks a number of hidden costs for additional features. What seems like a very good investment at first, may soon cost a great deal more than you expected.

Secondly, the Survey Monkey user interface is not nearly as intuitive or powerful as our own, is prone to bugs, and suffers from an inability to personalise it to each organisation’s unique needs and requirements. Complex analysis of results is nearly entirely absent from the service and, unlike VIRTUATell’s completely omnichannel service, Survey Monkey cover every customer contact channel.

Finally, Survey Monkey only offer online support, and their long, unfocused surveys are partly responsible for the survey fatigue many businesses are encountering when trying to gather online feedback.

In comparison, VIRTUATell offer a bespoke approach, with Managed Services support and a dedicated team of insight experts. We focus on medium-to-larger organisations, where self-management is not the primary concern, and a truly omnichannel approach is now required – incorporating email, online, SMS, hybrid and inbound and outbound phone surveys.

We place an emphasis on clear and concise communication with our customers and, consequently, use real-time charts and intuitive dashboards to convey findings. We also understand the importance of security in the modern marketplace and offer secure digital storage solutions to all clients.

Finally, our experience of using the Voice of the Customer® process has resulted in us owning its trademark. We believe this demonstrates our dedication and command of the central tenants of the VotC process and its importance to modern business practices.

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Alternative to NICE Satmetrix

Alternative to NICE Satmetrix

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While there are a number of businesses who specialise in generating, collecting and analysing customer feedback, we believe we’re the best in the industry and are willing to show you why. If you’re thinking of working with NICE Satmetrix, we want to take a moment of your time to tell you how VIRTUATell can provide a better service.

While NICE Satmetrix have experience in a number of areas, most prominently with Net Promoter Score (NPS) tools and with pre-built templates, this has also resulted in them developing a particularly narrow focus when it comes to setting up customer feedback channels.

Whereas we at VIRTUATell have worked hard to develop a truly omnichannel survey system that utilises a variety of tools, NICE Satmetrix have a limited approach that revolves almost entirely around NPS. At VIRTUATell, we believe diversity is key to accurate information and employ a number of alternatives to NPS, including Advocacy Index® and Customer Effort scores, providing our clients with more than one insight.

According to web-based feedback sites, the NICE Satmetrix product can also be difficult for clients to get their heads round, and is not particularly user friendly. For this, and a number of other reasons, it suffered from poor product release testing results. Its responsive surveys allow users to look at survey results in numerous different ways, but these cannot be viewed in real time and are not conducive to complex analysis.

Whereas VIRTUATell try to minimise the cost to their clients by giving them the tools to work by themselves in the future, NICE Satmetrix could be considered expensive. It’s also worth noting that, while VIRTUATell are a trusted and reliable organisation, Satmetrix face an unsure future under new owners.

At VIRTUATell, we’re an experienced business who understand how to provide a user-friendly experience, who maintain our own team of dedicated insight experts, and who have shown our expertise in the Voice of the Customer® process by becoming owner of the trademark. We’re here to help you, whenever you’re ready.

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Alternative to Medallia

Alternative to Medallia

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Though there’s a wide variety of organisations offering CX feedback services, not all businesses offer the same standard of service. If you’re considering working with Medallia, we want to tell you why we believe VIRTUATell would be worth considering as better suited to your needs.

While Medallia has a good interface which utilises drill down menus to provide users with greater detail, according to feedback pages, their online portal is known to slow down considerably at times and is infrequently updated.

Medallia’s responsive surveys are presented in a variety of different charts and they succeed in offering numerous different ways of studying results. However, again, according to web-based feedback, users find the Medallia product is a complex and difficult tool to use and change, and is far less intuitive than our own VIRTUATell services.

While here at VIRTUATell, we focus on providing an affordable service that doesn’t depend on the sustained use of high-cost consultants, Medallia offer a far more expensive service. Our aim is to develop our client’s ability to help themselves, limiting their dependence on outside assistance and, in the process, reducing long term costs. In this way our Insight Team are called upon only when good value is added.

We also offer a truly omnichannel service that encompasses web, email and online surveys, SMS and htbrid text surveys, chat and social surveys and inbound phone surveys and outbound phone surveys. This differs from Medallia’s approach, which heavily prioritises online research, at the expense of other types.

At VIRTUATell, we think we offer a better product at a lower cost. Our service utilises real-time data representation via a number of different charts in incredibly powerful and highly functional dashboards. We include external customer data in the dashboard and have a backup team of experts prepared to offer their unique insight into what the data means and how it can be actioned.

Finally, in order to demonstrate our comprehensive understanding of the Voice of the Customer® process, we hold the trademark. With years of experience, a well-rounded approach to customer feedback, and offering fantastic value for money, VIRTUATell are the choice for you.

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