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ComEd ups customer joy with mobile

Kathleen Wolf Davis's picture
Former Editor-in-Chief Intelligent Utility, Energy Central

With nearly two decades writing about the power business, Kathleen Wolf Davis has covered just about every industry topic imaginable from European DSOs to Brazil's smart meter markets. She...

  • Member since 2012
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  • Sep 27, 2016

Live from Mobile Utility Summit 2016:

At Mobile Utility Summit 2016 in Denver, Kim Friebel, manager of digital business at Commonwealth Edison, gives a little peek into how Chicago's ComEd is working with mobile and web to make for happier customers.

Her digital team manages web and mobile channels, and the team has seen a shift to mobile by the numbers. Mobile transactions for the utility have doubled to 2013. Mobile transactions in 2016 have already surpassed 2015 total transactions aand are projected to land at 11.8 million for the year. 

"We keep seeing this trend. We'll see those website numbers dipping, but the mobile side brings it right back up," she told the audience.

The utility's first push into mobile had a lot to do with storm activity, which lead to developments in social and mobile.  While she admits that this storm push isn't first in mobile any longer, the utility is still well aware that mobile channels will spike during outages and storms---so it's still a big part of the mobile business for all utilities. 

Their biggest texting program is still an outage alert program. 

"Customers are moving to mobile apps and texting channels," she noted. "Remember that customers would rather text than call you. While everything should be in the mobile space these days, storms and outages are still the major customer concern."

Between April 2012 and September 2016, ComEd has seen 856,000 downloads. Interestingly, looking at 2015, there were 6.5 million transaction on the mobile app (compared to 1.5 million through the mobile website), which, Friebel says, is a nice data visual to show how much you need a mobile app and its real value. (Transactions include: report outage, check balance, pay bill, check on outage updates.)

There are some "in process" points in the mobile app for ComEd, including a real-time pricing program which they wanted to have a presence in the app but weren't completely focused on the idea alone.

In July, one Apple reviewer said: "I use the ComEd app to check on the current KWH price for my real-time pricing account. Too many steps to have to go through to see what I'm looking for. Should have an app for RTP. I feel people would participate in the program if it was more user friendly. Other than that, the app is great for normal customers."

Otherwise, though, the current version on Apple rates about 4.5 stars on apple and on Android (with all versions at a 4 star rating). (Push notifications helped the utility bump up their Apple ratings with the app.) 

ComEd had a multi-year program looking at pain points on the web and mobile side to help increase customer satisfaction.  New releases that included linked accounts, outage reporting email receipts, epay, energy tools, push notifications and a preference center bumped numbers over a two-year period. (The big heavy hitter was ebill and epay, according to Friebel.) 

"Maybe it wasn't the most exciting project ever, but each small enhancement made a huge customer difference," Friebel said. "But you could see the satisfaction growing with each step, and that was satisfying---very satisfying."

Here's a final helpful hint from Friebel and ComEd to keep that satisfaction on all sides: When the website is down (problems or maintenance), ComEd pushes customers to download the mobile app to complete their transaction, comment, concern or question. They put up a banner that says " is down due to scheduled maintenance. Download the ComEd App." One Saturday saw a difference in numbers. Normally, they'd see about 200 app downloads on a Saturday. That day with the banner ad, they hit 850. 

"These minor things, like this banner ad, have really helped drive people to the app," Friebel added.


Read more from the Summit:



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