Utility is Service and Service is Utility

Avnish Arora, Sr. Vice President - Sales & Marketing, HBL Power Systems A seasoned business strategist, Avnish values practical and agile techniques to transform businesses to the next level, and exemplifies inspiring leadership qualities

We are witnessing the increasing trend of technology involvement in our daily lives and this is primarily influenced by both the products & services. This also brings into the fold the relevance of an empathetic service into a product life cycle and in turn derivation of customer satisfaction from it.

Factually speaking, if a manufacturer of a technology intensive product is able to value innovate its produce by hand holding its services to the user, it is an unbeatable combination for any utility. This ensures the best realisation of an attractive return on investment for the buyer.

According to Forrester research it costs 5 times more to acquire new customers than it does to keep the existing ones. To make the matters even more serious, the Harvard Business School report claims that on average a 5 percent increase in customer retention rates results in 25 percent - 95 percent increase of profits. The same truths are revealed by KPMG, who found customer retention is the main driver of a company’s revenue.

The key areas which can be cultivated by offering prompt services to the user can be:
•Help Carrying out product improvements by the manufacturer in the long run
•Help adding credibility to launching of future value innovations loaded with additional benefits
•Help Providing wide variety of commercial choices for repeat requirements
•Help creating a self-sustainable ecosystem

Further by not forgetting the users after you have serviced them allows to tap and exploit market potential with precision. So one must closely engage with customers through teaching them in a lucid form about the key functional benefits of the
product within the gamut of the services it can give and then continue to nurture our loyal users to make them the torch bearers and being instrumental in generating marketing buzz.

Creation of an effective feedback mechanism is an effective tool in making the changes in product & services. This aids understanding the real impact that utility is making in the market. Regular Training sessions by the utility service providers for its users by providing good quality educational /support material also helps to increase customer retention. Offering free training, webinars, video tutorials, and product demos whatever it takes to make the customers feel comfortable and informed will compliment quick acceptance in the market.

It is worth remembering that besides product quality, the importance of customer service in keeping customers by your side can hardly be underestimated

Utility service must be aimed to maximise the profit, In other words tools and training given to the users should be such that it reaps commercial benefits to the user both in short as well as long term. This can only happen once the utility service demonstrates its full potential and its user friendliness in all respects so that all customers are securely on board on long term basis.

Hence one must strongly empathically and thoroughly Should
1.Know the customer needs and ways for fulfilment of these
2.Keep analysing & segregating customers the cash cows from the less reliable ones & serve them to the best of the capabilities to fetch the utmost benefits
3.Provide Timely first point response followed by service delivery by a competent service team A stich in time saves Nine
4.Aim to design methodology to resolve complex problems with effortless flair and simplicity

Weightage of various factors which adds to customer’s bad experience
Customer service/After Sales Service support topples the list.

Way Forward
1.It is worth remembering that besides product quality, the importance of customer service in keeping customers by your side can hardly be underestimated.
2.Communicate with customers and involve them with your products, improve your customer service levels and make sure they see what they are gaining if they stay with you, rather than stray away from you.
3.If utility is also a manufacturer and is an engineering intensive company it must diversify to develop expertise as a service provider on its own.
4.Proactive service support is essential to improve user confidence. This gives long term stability to business relationships.
5.Offer users a good IRR by engagement with a single entity which is capable of providing end to end solutions.

This gives a sense of responsibility & urgency in keeping the customer’s experience at the top of the pyramid and retain them as a high integrity customers.