Building an effective customer communication vulnerability strategy
Supporting vulnerable customers is a staple of utilities companies’ customer experience (CX) management, but with Covid-19 thrusting more people into the vulnerable category, Amanda Jessop of Paragon Customer Communications discusses the increasing importance of effective multi-channel communications strategies.
Customers within certain groups – be that those of pensionable age, living with disabilities, or on low incomes, to name a few – have long-remained the focus of consumer vulnerability strategies for the industry. However, the onset of the pandemic has created an uncertain climate where more individuals now fit the widely accepted definition of vulnerable.
The rise in the number of employees placed on the Government’s furlough scheme, as well as the surge of redundancies across a multitude of sectors means a broader spectrum of consumers are being faced with the inability to pay bills.
Clearly there has never been a more critical time for utilities companies to strengthen relationships and build trust through their levels of communication and engagement with customers in vulnerable circumstances. Particularly with new emergency measures being put in place to protect the domestic energy supply of those most in need during the disruption caused by Covid-19.
A new approach
In this volatile landscape, not only do effective communication strategies have to be increasingly empathetic in their approach, and incorporate carefully considered messaging to reassure and keep customers well-informed, but also take into account the wider socio economic groups they now cater to.
Utilities need to be aware of their new market environment and reconsider the strategic orientation of their communications. With a wider category of vulnerable consumers to reach, for instance, strategies will likely need to consider previously unexplored communication channels and digital tools to ensure seamless multi-channel delivery that engages customers quickly and efficiently via their channel of choice.
In this regard the intelligent use of data can help suppliers identify and support those most in need. It is even possible to create a predictive model that can highlight those with difficulties through their data characteristics, so that organisations can approach them with appropriate messages, while at the same time ensuring they are handled sensitively to avoid barriers and denial.
Formulating a OnePlatform strategy
The foundational element of any effective digital adoption strategy should be building a cohesive eco-system, underpinned by agile leading-edge technologies to support future-proofed communications.
Though undeniably utilities have a wealth of digital tools at their disposal, for organisations typically deep-rooted in more traditional service models, often the greatest challenge is not incorporating the digital technology itself, but rather managing the myriad of internal systems and processes that sit behind it.
To deliver effective multi-channel strategies that engage vulnerable customers across all touchpoints – particularly online channels – companies need an ecosystem that can facilitate the unification of previously fragmented customer communications technologies, while at the same time seamlessly integrating new ones.
Technology, data and analytical platforms can be used to form an accurate depiction of each vulnerable customer – including their behaviours and channel preferences – and produce tailored communications across all digital channels more rapidly and cost-effectively.
Such customer centricity can be achieved seamlessly with the support of an experienced communications partners like Paragon Customer Communications. By empowering you to centralise communications, we help you to speak to your customers anywhere, anytime, via any channel. Our expert team can even support with marketing messaging formulation to reassure, build trust with, and keep in touch with vulnerable customers.