Interview: The Relationship Between Customer-centricity & Customer Experience (CX)

Interviewee: Bashir Bseirani, CEO, Avertra Interviewer: Christina Corcoran, Advisory Committee Chair, Utility 2030 Collaborative

Blake Morgan, a writer for Forbes, says customer-centricity is one of the biggest, competitive advantages a company can have.  “Instead of competing on price, more than two-thirds of companies now compete mostly on the base of customer experience,” she wrote in the article, The 10 Most Customer-Obsessed Companies Of 2019.”

Customer-centricity and CX are different yet synergistic. To explain their roles and relationships, I recently sat down with Bashir Bseirani, Avertra’s CEO, to hear his thoughts.

Christina: Among your utility client base, how important is customer-centricity today, and how do you see that changing over the next 10 years?

Bashir: With the changing world and customers’ increasing demands, customer-centricity is no longer an option for survival in virtually any industry.  It’s a necessity.  As per a study conducted by KPMG, a full force, customer-centric business model is one that can incorporate and accommodate to sensing real-time demand, seamless and cross-channel customer experiences, agile supply chains that can quickly respond to change, a commitment to product safety and sustainability, fully enabled technology, and pervasive use of smart analytics.

In terms of what we’re seeing in the industry, not all utility companies are grasping this concept, and a large portion of them aren’t being as aggressive as they should be when it comes to building digital strategies to retain the customer.  This is especially prevalent in the water sector.  Gas and electric utilities, on the other hand, are leading the way in terms of allocating an appropriate budget for digital strategy spend .

Customer expectations are on the rise and will continue to soar over the next ten years, which will ultimately force all utility companies to adopt a customer-centric mindset in order to survive.  Otherwise, they will witness a high, customer churn rate to new and unexpected competition in the market.  An example of some unexpected competition would be Tesla, for instance. 

Christina: We know that customer-centricity and customer experience (CX) are different, but related. Will you explain?

Bashir: Customer-centricity and customer experience (CX) go hand-in-hand with one another.  In order to deliver viable CX, the company must be customer-centric first and foremost.  CX is born out of a customer-centric approach, whereby the implementation of it is driven by the customer-centric strategy of the company.  CX entails all of the interactions that customers have with the company’s brand and end-to-end customer experience, ensuring that it is seamless.  Likelihood to continue to use and the likelihood to recommend it to others is also determined by the CX of the company.

Therefore, CX is the manifestation of customer-centricity.  It is completely centered around the customer’s desires and expectations.  

Christina: How are some of your utility clients digitally transforming CX?

Bashir: Working with ever-changing customers, utilities are also transforming the way they view and serve them. More than ever, utilities are now trying to look at the end-to-end, customer journey to identify potential areas of streamlining and digitization to drive the CX transformation.  For example, augmenting utility employees with AI will help utility companies automate processes that would traditionally be manual, such as exception-handling and resolution.  By doing so, utility companies will be able to improve their CX and eliminate traditional pain points, thus making their interaction with customers more pleasant.

Providing more holistic and context-centric, self-service options to customers across multiple personas is another example.  Not only would this help customize the service to the exact needs of customers, but it will also drastically affect morale among agents and employees.

Finally, how digital transformation has affected the way agents operate is by eliminating the need for agents having to log in to multiple, siloed systems.

Advance Your CX

If you wish to learn more about advancing customer-centricity at your utility by advancing your CX, get information about joining the Utility 2030 Collaborative’s CX Incubator by emailing info@utility2030.com.

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