Most utility customers prefer digital billing, finds survey
Two-thirds of utility customers would rather receive their bills for gas, electricity and water digitally, according to a survey of 2,000 consumers commissioned by multichannel communications expert Opus Trust Communications.
The findings from the Hidden Opportunity Market Report show 49% would prefer email, 16% access via an online portal, 2% from an app and just 1% from SMS. However, before utility suppliers discard traditional methods altogether, a further 30% still expect to receive their correspondence through the post.
What the findings highlight is that digital transformation is having an impact on the expectation of utility customers, with greater choice leading to preferences for a multichannel approach depending on the nature of the communication.
When asked about contracts as opposed to bills, the figures show some change, with 45% of consumers preferring to receive these through the post and 41% by email, which demonstrates that direct communication is still the preferred method for non-transactional documents.
In each instance, the two preferred methods of communication remain post and email (79% and 86% respectively). The wider report also found that within five years, a third of all consumers expect online chat functions to become their preferred method to communicate with service providers.
Despite far fewer customers choosing to use online portals (16%) and apps (2%) compared to other sectors such as banking, utility providers may need to invest more in their omnichannel communications strategies to meet with the changing needs of customers in years to come.
Chief Executive Officer for Opus Trust Communications, Tony Strong, comments: “This Hidden Opportunity Market Report has confirmed that consumers expect choice when it comes to the way that they receive communications from their utility suppliers.
“Some utility providers have already proven the success of paperless billing, with the majority of customers willing to shift to digital communications, however findings have confirmed that consumers still remain loyal to post when it comes to non-transactional documentation.
“We know that regular communications speak volumes about a company but can often be overlooked. What we want to see is companies turning conventional, more functional communications into engaging, relevant and informative customer experiences.
“The message from this report is clear; customers are embracing new technology and channels, but there is no one-size-fits-all. Consumers each have individual preferences and organisations must ensure they offer customers a choice of channels to enable them to customise their communications.”
For further details and insights from the Hidden Opportunity Market Report, please visit https://www.opustrust.co.uk/resources/
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