Apple Siri - Changing the Self-Service way
Voice recognition has been an area where a lot of research is being done for quite some time and there had not been any major break-through until Apple Siri was launched last October along with iPhone 4S. Since its launch it has taken the world by storm and re-defining the capabilities of voice recognition. While Siri is evolving, and utilities are moving towards advanced self-service, then why not include Siri in the roadmap for utilities self-service journey.
The utility self-service application and other applications integrated with Siri, acting as a personal assistant, can take your customer experience to next level. Customer no longer need to log into their computers to open their online account, remember payment due dates, never miss any demand response events, etc. Whenever a notification is sent from the Utility, Siri would notify the customer based on their availability and customers can just ask Siri to take the necessary action without having to click or type. So making payments for utility services, getting analytic like best rate, tips to save energy, reporting emergency requests, outages, participating in demand response events, etc. can be achieved easily. Also Siri would be able to access a lot of information available on customers iPhone like calendar, notifications bar, notes, settings, etc. which gives it immense power to understand personal preferences and act accordingly. For example it will be smart enough not to disturb when in a meeting.
The best part of it is that customer gets connected with the utility as if he/she is talking to an agent, and at the same time there is no investment from the utility on a customer service representative. Also this agent does not have any issues in answering customer queries in a sweet voice every time the customer wants without any wait time nor does it have issues working at any hour.
A sample conversation between customer and Siri can be as follows.
Customer: Do you thing I am paying more for my utility bill
Siri: Based on current availability of plans, Residential Tier-1 seems to be best plan for you.
Customer: So if I switch from my current plan to new plan, how much would I save?
Siri: Based on your last 12 month's usage, you will save approximately 135$ annually.
Customer: Sounds good, can you sign me up for the new plan?
Siri: Your request is issued and your reference number is 3826432.
Customer: Please save the reference number for future purpose.
Siri: I have added a memo with the reference number.
With all these nice things said, there needs to be investment from utilities to start venturing into the newer areas when it is catching speed to catch the attention of customers and improve their self-service adoption rate drastically.