Optimizing the “customer experience” is no longer just a focus for destination resorts or retail stores. Strengthening customer engagement is essential for utility and energy companies today as customers increasingly demand and expect quick access to up-to-date information. In today’s `real-time’ communications age, poor customer service can produce immediate and long-lasting negative repercussions.

Customer engagement is often a difficult task to define, implement and measure due to a number of institutional factors including a lack of historical emphasis, limited resources and scalability within the organization. Yet, the impact of poor customer service or limited infrastructure to support it is most apparent during severe weather events, in low program enrollment and general weak brand perception.

Some energy providers in the Northeast are still repairing their reputations and customer relationships that were damaged after Superstorm Sandy in 2012 and Hurricane Irene in 2011. A J.D. Power 2013 Electric Utility Business Customer Satisfaction Study ranked “communications” as one of the lowest rated categories of satisfaction. An Accenture survey this past summer found that less than a quarter of consumers “trust” their utility company. These challenges are exacerbated by social media when poor service and negative brand perception can easily translate into scathing public comments on Facebook and Twitter and rapid fire complaints on the internet to media, consumer groups and government agencies with the click of a `send button.’

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