Energy Price Rise: Reassuring customers worried about their energy debt
On the back of the energy price rise crisis, consumers are now panicking about whether they can switch whilst in debt and what will happen if they can’t get an energy provider. This continues to drive demand for answers from energy suppliers … putting more pressure on customer-facing teams.
The key issue is for customers whose supplier goes bust; will any new supplier allow them to transfer over if they’re in debt?
Policies and onboarding new customers could vary between suppliers, but the general ‘rules’ seem to be supportive of consumers whose supplier has gone out of business – subject to policies about the size and age of their energy debt.
So how do you stop the demand on agents from existing customers, or potential new ones – who want reassurance and help from advisors?
Build more reassurance into digital and written comms and channels.
- Make it clear, concise, caring and confident
When reassuring customers and communicating in difficult times, stick to the 4 Cs:
- Make things as simple and clear as possible to your audience: Break things down into bite-size pieces of info. Be clear and straightforward – ‘this is the issue, this is what we’re doing, how we’re doing it, and here is how it benefits or helps you’. Don’t use jargon – customers won’t understand and will end up getting more confused and frustrated.
- Be concise: Bullet point information, adding in the key ‘must haves’, ideally in bold for a quick understanding.
- Be caring: Show empathy… come at it from a customer’s point of view… show that you’re listening and can understand the customer’s troubles. Be sympathetic, show kindness and use positive language such as ‘help’, ‘fast’ and ‘easy’.
- Show confidence: Be straight-to-the-point. Avoid hedge words such as ‘approximately’, ‘might, ‘possibly’ as this implies doubt.
- Use more active language
- Active language will also help, as it’s more personal and fosters connections. Whereas passive language is more robotic and has no personal relation.
- Active language: ‘We’ll send your bill to you’
- Passive language: ‘Your bill will be sent out to you’
- Make policies clear and accessible on digital channels
- What’s your policy on taking on customers with debt? Is it clear and visible from the homepage or your app?
- Make banners and online links specific to different customer groups e.g. ‘Customers with debt older than 28 days’, ‘Customers with prepayment meters’
- FAQs: Have a clear section about ‘taking on customers in debt’
- Adopt a simple FAQs bot to deliver facts and answers in an easy, conversational style
- Optimise social media for service
- Ensure your social teams know the rules and policies relating to customers in debt and arm them with the relevant URLs, to quickly steer customers to specific, online help
- Build empathy – ensure your social teams understand the different circumstances and situations consumers might be in, so they can respond accordingly
- Prioritise tone of voice training so that teams can flex styles and tone to fit the situation – more sympathetic, reassuring and understanding
- Make your IVR take on some of the load
- Start the IVR with a reassuring alert message to pull potential new customers to the relevant online help
- Manage expectations by being clear about ‘our advisors here on the phone’ can and can’t help with
- Prep callers for the call, by telling them what information they’ll need to have to hand e.g. ‘current bill details’, ‘information relating to your debt and household bills’
- Keep alerts up to date and check in with advisors to see that the IVR is working effectively
- Don’t be tempted to add long-winded info and policy messages into the IVR. Human brains can only take on so much information in voice messages, and none of us are good listeners when we’re stressed or anxious.
For more ideas and information, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.