Utility Inbox (Part 1 - Concept & Solution)
Currently many of the utilities, if not all, use email communication method to send some of the notifications and marketing messages to the customer.
Examples of such messages are - 'your bill is ready...', 'your payment is due on...', 'a demand response event is coming up and requires your action...', 'your payment has been rejected by bank...', 'a new program has been launched which might be beneficial to you...', 'this is your final notice to make payment...', 'your deposit amount has been fully paid...', 'Your payment arrangement details are...' etc.
The total number of instances of such messages/notices on a daily basis is very significant and the total O&M cost associated with this process is also very high.
If customers are given an option to ask for getting all these messages through utilities inbox then it is supposed to be a win-win for both the utility as well as customers.
- The main challenge in this concept is customer mindset where they, in practical world, expect these messages through postal mail.
- But with some of the solution options mentioned below (like making it optional, delivering alternate notification to primary email, starting with non-critical messages etc) this challenge can be minimized to a greater extent.
- An Utilties inbox can be created in customer's My Account (Utilities online portal for customers) where all such messages can be securely delivered like most of the banking websites currently provide to their customers.
- At the same time utility can send another email to the customer's primary (regularly accessed) email id notifying them about the actual message delivery to their utility inbox.
- This will still be an optional choice for the customer to choose but since it has more benefits for the customer than the postal way hence most of the customers are probably going to opt for it.
- During different times of interaction with the customer utility can get customer's contact preference on this and store it. This can be made sophisticated and customized by categorizing the different types of notices/messages and attaching customer's preference on each of this category.
- In the pilot phase of implementation Utilities can only start with non-critical message delivery through this route, get customer feedback and based on that gradually include other critical messages. But at first, utility will have to take approval from their corresponding utility commissions for each of the message that they move from the regular delivery channel to this new channel.