Customer engagement at the forefront of municipal interaction

Customer engagement at the forefront of municipal interaction
CustomerConnect from Harris Utilities is a Web-based solution that gives utilities a hands-on approach to informing consumers about conservation and water usage.

Interested in Education/Training?

Get Education/Training articles, news and videos right in your inbox! Sign up now.

Education/Training + Get Alerts

Harris Utilities, a software solutions company, has released CustomerConnect, the Web-based customer engagement program for municipal utilities. 

A challenge many utilities face is managing the public’s impression of who they are and what they do. CustomerConnect enables utilities to change the way they communicate with end-users, and makes the consumer and utility experience interactive. 

The software is provided to the utility, and the utility offers it to consumers as part of their service. Consumers access CustomerConnect via the utility’s website at no cost. 

“It changes the dynamic when the utility puts CustomerConnect out to its consumers,” says Norm Daigle, executive vice president for Harris Utilities, SmartWorks division. “Consumers are looking at the utility as a progressive organization that has their needs top of mind and considers them as active participants in resource demand management and conservation.” 

Easily accessible

CustomerConnect is available to utilities of all sizes. The program serves as an online information center where consumers can access their monthly usage and pay bills. 

“What we wanted was an interaction between the utility and the consumer that was going to be more proactive,” says Miqdad Jaffer, product manager for Harris Utilities, SmartWorks division. CustomerConnect allows consumers to get their information down to the subhourly level displayed on the meter. “We then took it one step further and made it possible for consumers to be notified when they’ve surpassed some budget threshold based on cost or consumption, depending on how they understand things. Consumers understand dollars and cents more than they do kilowatt-hours and gallons.” 

CustomerConnect’s intuitive format helps consumers recognize how their usage directly affects the rates they pay. They can be notified via email, text message or phone call when thresholds are met so they can curtail their usage accordingly. 

Savvy end-users

Educating consumers is an important part of CustomerConnect. The program includes a library of information and cost-saving tips. “The program educates consumers on what it means to get clean water to their homes,” says Daigle. “It shows consumers how they’re meeting conservation demands and goals.”

The Web-based solution gives utilities a hands-on approach to informing consumers about conservation and water usage. “Consumer literacy is a concern among utilities as they are challenged with commodity prices and conservation demands,” says Daigle. “They can’t achieve their goals without the consumer, but the consumer doesn’t know how or why to modify their consumption habits. CustomerConnect empowers the consumer.” 

Utilities can segment or customize user groups to send notifications to consumers. “If the utility has a conservation program it wants to implement, it can send it out to the people who are most likely to participate,” says Jaffer. The utility can also send out tailored messages specifically to meet consumers’ needs.

Cohesive outlook

With a unified view of the utility, consumers have a better attitude toward the entity that runs their service. “What we’ve seen in the past is that the interaction between the utility and the consumer has been only through the home or business owner,” says Jaffer. “So the person who’s paying the bill is the person the utility interacts with. But from a home perspective, they might not actually be the biggest consumer of whichever commodity is being monitored, such as water. With CustomerConnect, all members of the household can be notified about reaching thresholds. They can all have their own accounts and see the information.” 

CustomerConnect looks to be strongly positioned as the future for utility communication. A mobile app is in the works, and current users are enjoying the benefits of the Web-based solution. “It’s what makes it real for the consumer,” says Daigle. “It’s what allows utilities to revolutionize their relationships with their customers, educate them on their role in either helping manage their monthly bills more accurately, or becoming more active in resource conservation. As utilities begin to further engage their consumers, they will in turn be able to make them willing advocates and include them in all ongoing initiatives.”  


Comments on this site are submitted by users and are not endorsed by nor do they reflect the views or opinions of COLE Publishing, Inc. Comments are moderated before being posted.