Energy companies will need to become ultra efficient to counter soaring costs and restore customer confidence

Energy companies will need to significantly improve the efficiency of their customer services departments if they’re to mitigate against soaring costs this winter. Experts at analytics leader SAS say that hyperautomation could help energy companies to reduce operational costs and improve customer service in the face of soaring wholesale gas prices and growing public anger.

The warning comes following the energy price cap rise on October 1 for UK households.

Hyperautomation combines cloud, robotic process automation (RPA), and artificial intelligence (AI), to deliver high-value autonomous processes for intelligent decisions. This results in a faster, better-quality service where cost savings can be passed on to customers.

Explaining more, David Shannon, Head of Hyperautomation, SAS UK & Ireland, said:

“Energy companies are bracing themselves for high volumes of enquiries from customers this winter, some of whom will be facing severe hardship. Automation, such as self-service online tools and chatbots, is critical in helping to manage these volumes – but basic RPA and unintelligent chatbots will only add to consumers’ frustration.

“Hyperautomation, on the other hand, empowers customer service teams to work in an ultra-efficient way, so they can deliver fast and frictionless experiences. It ensures that people receive the right service for their needs, without requiring more agents on the phones as demand peaks. Gas price volatility may be out of their hands but hyperautomation will allow them to keep other costs under control and should help to restore customer trust when we move beyond the crisis.”

Earlier this year, SAS published its Hyperautomation Report which looks at the new customer-centric demands and fast evolving expectations that have accelerated since the pandemic. A sample of 1,513 people in the UK and Ireland were asked about their expectations and experiences of customer service in different sectors, including energy and utilities.

It found that half of the consumers don’t trust energy and utilities companies to deliver services using AI-powered chatbots, compared to just 40% in other sectors such as retail. Only government bodies fared worse at 57%.

Furthermore, only 14% of respondents say they’d consider communications with energy and utilities companies entirely online, a similar level to other sectors analysed. Nearly half (48%), however, are happy to do a mixture of online and human interaction. However, hyperautomation could increase the proportion of people willing to interact purely online, because it can deliver on the clear need for speed and convenience while not sacrificing the overall customer experience.

To learn more, read the eBook entitled Hyperautomation for Energy.

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