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Utilities Marketing and Digital Outreach Strategy

Getting Started: Discover the expectations that drive updated techniques

Your customers are not the same customers from 15 years ago.

Well, they may be, but their expectations have changed.

I recently had the opportunity to speak at a conference about the importance of mobile, mobile marketing and predictions for the mobile future. Through my preparations for that talk, I came across a stumbling statistic.

Mobile users expect pages to load in three seconds or less. It’s even less for desktop versions of your content.

For some of you, this may be a “well, YAH” moment, for some an “Ah-Ha!” moment and for others, this may be a little scary. It should be.

Just for a fun exercise, sit at your desk and stare at your computer screen or mobile device for 30 (painful) seconds relive what it was like in the mid-90’s when we had to wait for this to just connect to the vast world that was the Internet.

Ready to jump out the window? So are your customers. Expectations have changed.

Mobile users expect pages to load in three seconds or less. It’s even less for desktop versions of your content.

Updated digital expectations

If your utility is marketing the same way that it did in the 90’s, or even the mid-2000s, you are behind. Factor in a few actual years, then a few catch-up years (hint: if you are talking about building mobile sites, you are at least five years behind), and you get the picture. Here’s how to catch up:

  • Your customers expect Amazon. If your website is not simple, easy to use and intuitive (i.e., I can pay my bill in five minutes or less) expect a growing number of suggestion box entries with “Website” in the subject line.
  • Customer expectations transcend industries. They don’t care if you are a multi-million dollar eCommerce platform or a utility serving 1.6 million customers – everything should be easy. More importantly, everything should be targeted.
  • Customers expect that the information that their service companies are delivering to their inbox is tailored and timely. If it isn’t, messages get tuned out (aka deleted) to the point that even essential communication (i.e., problems with a bill) go ignored.

Understanding and organizing customer expectations (both online and offline), especially in the utility industry where there are multiple departments, projects, platforms, resource restrictions and regulatory requirements, can be a daunting task. More often than not, it also requires the assistance of a third-party, impartial and informed partner to help navigate through the process.

How to Create Personas

Here’s how you do it: a Digital Customer Interaction Strategy

A comprehensive baseline of where the organization is to determine strengths, weaknesses and how far you need to go to reach customer beliefs is the best way to understand what you need to do to meet your customer expectations. This strategy, though it can vary from business to business, typically includes the following items:

  • Stakeholder interviews
  • Complete analysis of IT systems and infrastructure
  • Complete analysis of software solutions and programs
  • Review of customer communications channels and messaging
  • Review of customer-facing workflows
  • Self-service channel workflow review
  • Competitive analysis and research
  • Recommendations for delivery platforms, high-level campaigns and software
  • Customer personas
  • Project roadmap with steps to completing the project objectives

Once this process is complete, your organization will have a holistic understanding of the steps necessary to position the business for customer service that is targeted and effective.

Next up in this series: Pulling actionable insights from data and research to shape an interaction strategy.

Samantha Maltais, Marketing Manager & Principal Strategist
Meet Samantha Maltais, Marketing Manager & Principal Strategist

Samantha is a digital strategist, marketer, and project manager with the innate ability to combine marketing and operational requirements for clients.

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