In order to respond to the growing pressure upon the utilities sector to provide a better service and more efficient processes, it is important to consider every contributory factor towards your service delivery. Collaboration is one element that, in our experience of working with utilities companies, can often be overlooked; or at least the true value can be overlooked.
Using a simple analogy: not taking collaboration into consideration is like running a marathon without taking water onboard. You may be able to complete the marathon but the mechanics of your body will suffer and that method of running simply won’t be sustainable.
Collaboration is the cogs of your business. From engineers to customers, all stakeholders need to interlink if you are to deliver an efficient and accurate service. Any lapse in this cycle will not only hamper efficiencies, it could stop you delivering your service altogether; a costly occurrence both financially and reputationally.
We have produced a 5 step guide to ensure you fully utilise all of the benefits that true collaboration can bring to the utilities sector.
Step one: Provide your entire team with the tools to collaborate internally
If your team are lacking any information, be it details of the job they need to complete, or information about an operatives skills and availability, they will not only encounter inefficiencies, but frustrations too.
As we all know, productivity is the holy grail in any service organisation and without visibility and collaboration across all of your teams, productivity will be hampered.
By introducing tools and the facility for your entire team to communicate more effectively, they will not only work more efficiently, they will also be able to work more accurately, thereafter increasing efficiency savings, and service excellence.
Step Two: Optimise your processes to ensure they work together effectively
Your people are a major part of the smooth running of your organisation, but without efficient processes, they cannot maximise their productivity.
Processes evolve over time and without taking a regular and holistic view of them, they can quickly become unwieldy and inefficient. Whether your processes are driven by software or are reliant on manual processes, it is important to cast a fresh eye on all processes, in particular establishing whether they are all necessary or whether they could interact better.
By evaluating the existing systems you can see how best to tighten the process. By collaborating all of the applications you use, you reduce administration, increase accuracy and improve efficiency.
Step Three: Better collaborate with your customers to learn even more
Customers within the utilities sector now have more control than ever before. Smart meters, online tools and comparisons sites, mean that consumers have never been more empowered to manage their utilities and make their voice heard. Now more than ever, when providing a utilities service, there is less room for error and a far more urgent need to deliver service excellence.
Once put in place, Step One (as mentioned above), will deliver a better service. For example, with greater knowledge and visibility, your operatives will be able to resolve issues quicker, your customer service reps will be able to update customers on progress more easily and your management team will be able to monitor and manage their team with greater precision. But, customer service is a two way process; as well as delivering more, it is vital to hear the customer’s voice.
By introducing channels in which your customers can share their opinion, in a productive and controlled way, it will not only improve customer relations, it will also help you to continually improve the service you deliver. This could be as simple as carrying out a customer satisfaction survey via your operatives mobile device, but, as simple as it is, it will fulfil your customer’s desire to be heard, whilst also collate customer data that will help you further enhance your service offering.
Step Four: Harness technological advances to uncover new ways to collaborate
Aside from taking an inwards view on collaboration, it is important to keep an ear to the ground for new collaborative solutions that are coming to market. Take the Internet of Things (IoT) as an example. IoT uses sensors to change the way in which information is collected and interpreted, enabling you to potentially fix a problem before it is even noticed. Above all, IoT could change the way in which you collaborate with data, increasing your data accessibility and providing greater knowledge to transform service performance.
IoT is just one example of recent technological and collaborative advances. By staying ahead of the game, you have the opportunity to go far beyond customer expectations and give your organisation the springboard to deliver more for less.
Step Five: Use all of your collaborative tools to continually improve
Each of the four steps above gives you greater visibility, knowledge, agility and control. When combined, these make a powerful combination that enables you to continually identify improvements – whether that is cutting out inefficiencies from the processes that deliver your service or opening up avenues to hear more from your customers.
The key takeaway in this final step is to continually take learnings from your collaboration tools and techniques. With this approach you will fully utilise all of the knowledge available to you, helping to drive the success of your organisation.
Could service management software help?
At Oneserve, we work closely with utilities companies helping them deliver customer excellence whilst reducing inefficiencies, through the use of service management software. If you would like to discover more about our collaborative tool, request a free demo today.