9 Best Practices for Utilities Deploying Mobile Apps

How important is mobility to your utility customers? Today, customers expect convenience, customization and self-service – wherever and whenever! Expectations have been set by other industries that this ease of access translates to mobile access. This will continue to be a market force in the utility industry that will challenge those without apps to deploy them – and those with apps to keep improving them.

As an IT Manager at a utility, your objectives are many. In addition to improving the customer experience, you are also being tasked with building and maintaining theses mobile apps in a way that allows for rapid creation, and modification as the mobile landscape continues to evolve.

Trying to get all the functionality you want in a mobile application can seem a bit daunting. How best to tackle it? A little at a time. Here are nine best practices to help guide you through the development process:

  1. Create an internal group responsible for making decisions about the app that have diverse knowledge such as IT, customer service, web manager, operations, collections and IVR manager. Have a project manager dedicated to the mission.
  2. Determine what processes you would like to have apps for and determine priority of implementation – start by looking at what transactions are the highest in your call center, IVR or web apps. Most of the time a pay-your-bill option is a great place to start.
  3. Identify and use a technology that allows you to successfully create and maintain apps easily across all platforms.
  4. Look for ways to proactively reach out to your customers. Two-way outage information is another hot topic for mobile devices. Allowing customers to report outages, including outage maps, and sending push notifications to customers about when they can expect restoration of services, can all increase customer satisfaction.
  5. Develop a mobile app that allows for tight integration to the contact center. This is a must to deliver an exceptional mobile service experience. Consider a click-to-call option as a feature.
  6. Thoroughly test the app before deployment. Test the apps with a users’ group – make sure it is simple, no more than a few clicks and user friendly.
  7. Launch your app internally first. Ensure that you have tested any app download to ensure it works right the first time for your customers.
  8. Prepare to launch the app to your customers. Think about ways to reach your customers, advertise the app in paper billing, via text messaging, outbound call promotion, direct mail, and through company managed social media sites. Communications is a must! Tell them once, twice, three times and hopefully the third time it will stick is the old adage.
  9. Once the app goes live, track any reported issues and bugs. You may see an increase in calls or a diversion of calls – keep track!

The app is not a stagnant item, it will continue to evolve and change. Keep improving your processes and delight your customers. With these best practices in mind, I encourage you to read the whitepaper, “Excelling at Mobile Customer Service,” to further prepare you for your venture into mobile service.

I challenge you to think of other features that your mobile app could have to exceed your customers’ expectations. If you have deployed an app, inspire others by sharing some of your lessons learned here for our readers.

Until next time, make a difference,
Mechele