Future-Proofing Your Energy & Utilities Business: The Role of Contact Centers

Contact centers provide the customer experience and scalability necessary to expand your energy and utilities business into 2023—and beyond

Considering a contact center to support your energy and utilities company?

While customer service is an often overlooked aspect of energy and utility companies, businesses who want to future-proof their operations for 2023 and beyond are wise to consider how a contact center can provide crucial support for today’s challenging economy.

While the marketplace and competition for consumer services is getting more crowded, delivering consistent, reliable energy service is becoming more difficult. And as pressure mounts from industry regulators, sustainability groups and consumer expectations, there’s a growing need for energy and utility companies to not only improve their products and services, but also to strengthen customer satisfaction.

So how can energy and utility companies reinforce and expand their business for 2023 and beyond? And how do contact centers provide the continuity, scalability and foundation for increased customer satisfaction needed to survive and thrive in this new marketplace?

In this guide, our team of CX experts at ROI CX Solutions dives into how contact centers provide the support energy and utilities companies need in today’s economy, as well as what modern customers want from consumer services brands—and how you can deliver it.

The future of energy and utilities

In 2023, energy and utilities companies are facing more changes and challenges than ever. With a wider marketplace, increased competition and rising consumer demands, the stakes are high for companies to either sink or swim.

Amid all the changes and challenges, energy and utilities companies need to provide continual, affordable and reliable service that consumers can trust, while making sure that consumers are informed and cared for at every turn. The key to future-proofing your utilities and energy business lies in ensuring that your customer service and experiences are as consistent and reliable as your service delivery.

Challenges in today’s energy & utilities market

The challenges facing energy and utilities companies today are numerous:

  • inflation and rising rates, combined with an increased consumer awareness of rate increases
  • inadequate customer communications
  • lack of visibility on corporate citizenship and sustainability
  • an aging workforce and increased talent scarcity
  • rising customer expectations from increased CX initiatives in retail and other industries
  • supply chain challenges and more frequent extreme weather events

In addition, as utilities and other consumer services industries become increasingly deregulated, and consumers have more options and information than ever, competition is getting fiercer and companies are having to do more than ever to decrease customer churn and acquire new customers.

What’s clear is that energy and utilities companies are being forced to adjust to changing market needs and expectations. That said, for those who can make the adjustment and meet today’s challenges, a more open marketplace allows them to gain wider market share and develop strong customer loyalty.

Rising rates do not necessarily have to result in lower customer satisfaction. In fact, the handful of electric utilities that are getting the business customer engagement formula right are able to maintain or even drive higher levels of satisfaction and affordability perceptions.

What today’s customers want

As consumer expectations rise among retail, health and travel brands, these increased expectations are spilling over into even utility purchases such as energy, consumer services, and the like.

Today’s customers aren’t shy about their growing expectations:

expect all businesses they interact with to personalize their marketing and interactions

want immediate service when they have an issue or question

want to be contacted proactively by companies

And customers are willing to put their money where their mouth is as well—68% of customers will pay more for products and services if they receive great customer service experiences, and 92% of customers will switch brands after just three (or fewer) negative customer service experiences.

As expectations change, energy and utilities companies need to implement focused strategies to meet and exceed rising consumer preferences and needs or risk losing their customers to competitors.

For many companies, this is where your contact center can make a sizable difference.

Ready to take the next step?

Future-proofing your energy and utilities business with a contact center

As consumer expectations grow and challenges on the market continue to become more pressing, a contact center provides immediate and long-lasting benefits to utilities and energy companies, strengthening customer experiences in the short-term while future-proofing your business against changing markets for the long-term.

Below, seven key ways a good contact center can shore up your business against changing expectations and markets.

Improve digital channels for better customer experiences

There’s no denying it: the digital experience is more essential than ever, and will only continue to gain prominence in customer expectations and preferences.

Research from McKinsey shows that among energy and utility companies, digital channels perform just as well as, or better than, traditional channels for meeting customer needs. Not just that—but they’re also more cost-effective and correlated with higher levels of customer satisfaction when done well.

That is: when customers are more satisfied with their digital experiences, they tend to be more satisfied with their experience of your brand overall.

So why aren’t more energy and utility companies investing in improved digital experiences? In part because digital transformation can be time-consuming, expensive, and disruptive to business operations.

However, a contact center can create a bridge between where you are and where you want to be, aiding and speeding your digital transformation to meet customers where they are today. Contact centers can not only help implement new digital channels, such as mobile apps, web support or live chat options, but they can also maintain and manage them, providing multi-channel customer support that exceeds customer expectations and offers always-on service.

Scale your business affordably

Traditionally, energy and utility companies have siloed customer support, with separate teams for customer service, outage repairs, new customers and sales, and so on. All of these siloes not only increase complexity of your operations, but they slow down customer support—as customers may need to be frequently transferred between departments, decreasing efficiency for both you and your customers.

What’s more: energy and utility companies, perhaps more than any other industry, deal with unexpected and massive changes in call volume, typically following unforeseen outages, bad weather, grid failures or other issues. As these issues become more common across the country, energy and utility companies must prepare themselves for increased call volume and demand that can skyrocket at any moment.

When you’re managing call volume and customer service internally, there’s no good way to manage this—you’re either under-staffed for surges, protecting your overall costs but burning out employees and providing poor service, or you’re overstaffed during normal times, wasting time and resources.

The solution is an outsourced contact center, which can both eliminate silos—improving efficiency and streamlined customer service—and offer affordable scalability, allowing you to staff exactly who you need, when you need them.

For example, at ROI CX Solutions, we offer scalable teams and overflow staffing available to meet your scaling needs, no matter how quickly they come up. With overflow staffing, if call volume skyrockets suddenly, we can automatically route some of your calls to a team in the wings who can pick up slack. We also offer scalable solutions so you can scale your primary team up for more extreme seasons, or back for slower times of the year.

Improve customer satisfaction and retention

It’s no secret that customer satisfaction in the energy and utilities industry is declining—and there’s a lot that businesses are facing. A 2022 report showed that overall customer satisfaction in this industry is down 12 points from the previous year, in part driven by:

  • rising rates and inflation burdens
  • dissatisfaction with utility company communications
  • awareness of increasingly unstable power quality and reliability
  • increased consumer desire for energy sustainability and corporate citizenship

Improved customer satisfaction has a high correlation with business growth and sustainability. Consider the data:

say customer service is a key factor in their loyalty to a brand

will make future purchases with a company they received great customer service from

churn could be resolved if customers got problems resolved on the first contact

Increasing customer retention rates by just 5% correlates to 25% – 95% growth in profit

With a contact center, your company can take necessary steps to increase customer satisfaction and retention through customer service, thereby increasing customer loyalty over time, expanding your market and boosting profits.

For example, research from McKinsey found that implementing best-in-class IVR systems created a 10% – 30% reduction in call volume for utilities companies. The change also resulted in 5% – 10% improvement in customer satisfaction. With a contact center, not only can you implement state-of-the-art technology, but you can also improve service levels, customer experience and overall CX strategy to increase customer satisfaction and retention from every angle.

Provide always-on customer support for outages

When your services go down—for scheduled maintenance or severe weather outside of your control—you need effective crisis management. With a contact center, your customer service and communications are always in control.

As McKinsey states from their research,

what sets utility leaders apart from their peers is a focus on optimizing customer journeys and satisfaction drivers that matter most. For example, when customers experience an outage, about 50 percent of customer satisfaction is derived from factors within the direct control of that utility’s customer-service organization, including information timeliness, clarity, and ease of access; the other 50 percent focuses on [the outage itself].

The good news here for energy and utility leaders is that at least 50% of customer satisfaction following outages—arguably the most dissatisfying part of energy and utility providers—is well within providers’ control.

The key is effectively managing these factors within your control, such as timeliness of communication, clarity in customer support and creating easily accessible support. With a contact center, you can offer always-on customer support for outages to give your customers the most support possible. In addition, contact centers like ROI CX Solutions offer overflow support for high call volume periods and multi-channel or omnichannel support to increase accessibility and satisfaction.

Even if you have an in-house team, a contact center can centralize some of this communication and ensure that your team—and your customers—are supported during ballooning support periods.

Generate new leads and capitalize on expanding markets

Importantly, as energy and utility companies prepare for the future, contact centers aren’t only a support for customer service and customer satisfaction, but also for your own sales and marketing needs.

Not only can contact centers optimize your lead generation, delivering you higher-quality leads in less time and with fewer internal resources, they can also support an expansion in customer support to offer more affordable and high-quality expansion into new markets.

Consider that contact centers can provide:

  • lead-generation services to increase warm leads
  • scalable customer service
  • affordable expansion of your team to support new markets
  • multilingual customer service and support
  • upselling and cross-selling services

As customer loyalty and audience growth becomes increasingly based on quality and satisfaction rather than geographic location or convenience, energy and utility companies who can capitalize on expanding markets and strengthen new leads can bolster their business growth for the coming years.

Increase operational efficiency and sustainability

Internal customer support is simply not as sustainable, scalable or efficient as outsourced contact centers, and nowhere is this more true than with energy and utility companies.

In the energy and utility sector, an aging workforce also contributes to declining sustainability and efficiency—as your workforce ages, hiring and replacing staff can be costly and time-consuming, especially alongside other digital transformations and optimizations that need to happen to improve service and efficiency.

Further, many energy and utility companies attempt to focus on quality of service at the cost of quick and efficient service levels. While quality service is essential, speed and efficiency matter to customers as well. Contact centers offer many more ways to improve your operational efficiency, whether through:

More flexible workforce options to utilize the best team members at all time

Access to state-of-the-art technology to improve processes and workflows

Speedier service and resolution times without losing quality

Enhanced expertise and experience resulting in more efficient staff

The bottom line? Contact centers support and improve internal processes and efficiency, making your support more affordable, sustainable and better for customers as well.

Partner with outsourced contact center providers

That said, partnering with an outsourced contact center is an effective way to future-proof your operations.

Aside from aforementioned benefits, an outsourced contact center offers the ability to increase your focus on—and success with—customer engagement initiatives. And in today’s market—and the market of tomorrow—there’s few things that distinguish companies faster than strong customer engagement and satisfaction.

According to a recent study, proactive customer engagement is crucial in offsetting negative perceptions of energy and utility companies amidst inflation and rising rates as well as other market changes. When customers are more engaged with their utility companies—in the study, defined as participating in three or more product or service offerings—there was a 74-point increase in customer satisfaction.

Contact centers have specialized resources, talent and expertise dedicated to creating customer engagement and satisfaction strategies for your company, including increased proactive support, outbound communication, marketing and cross-selling, and expanded customer service.

For example, 80% of energy & utility customers say they want to get high-bill notifications—an obvious example of proactive support that not only meets customer preferences, but also decreases call center communications by 19%, improving efficiency. A contact center allows you to provide the proactive support that keeps customers in the loop and feeling cared for—and loyal to—your company, while also increasing your own operational efficiency and reducing costs.

Is an outsourced contact center right for you?

Consider whether some of the following benefits of contact center outsourcing can support your energy or utility company now and in the future:

  • 24/7 service for customers offering increased accessibility and on-demand support
  • Stable outsourced teams that provide sustainable, always-on support even during outages or severe weather
  • Affordable services and effortless scalability allow you to meet the variable demands on your call center and customer needs
  • Access to modern technology and state-of-the-art customer service solutions allows you to speed your digital transformation and offer seamless digital support that customers want and need
  • Outbound services like lead generation and up-selling or cross-selling support market expansion and business growth, all under one outsourced team

As a result of their partnership with ROI CX Solutions, our clients have achieved results like:

generating $22B in new annual revenue

improving customer satisfaction by 15% in less than one year


reducing Average Handle Time to just 5.2 minutes while maintaining Client Experience minimums of 82% or higher

To see how ROI CX Solutions can transform your energy and utilities business with exceptional customer service and contact center solutions, connect with an expert from our team today for a free, personalized assessment.

About ROI CX Solutions

ROI CX Solutions drives customer satisfaction and business success through outsourced customer service and global sourcing management. With decades of experience across our expert team, ROI CX Solutions has innovated results-driven performance and improved customer experiences for brands across a variety of industries. With flexible, customizable solutions, state-of-the-art technology, and world-class customer service representatives, we deliver results for your business—and your customers.

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