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What takeaways did you get from CS Week?

Audra Drazga's picture
Vice President of The Power Industry Network Energy Central

I am the VP of the Energy Central Power Industry Network.  In this role, I help to connect professionals in the power industry through the development and management of topic-specific community...

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  • Aug 24, 2021

Last week CS Week was live again for the first time in over a year and 1/2.  I am curious to hear from community members who attended if there were any key themes or takeaways discussed at the event.  

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The VertexOne team was eager to participate in the 2021 CS Week in Tampa.  While everyone knows the overall attendance was down significantly this year, however, this allowed for more quality time with attendees. For me, this represented my 11th CS Week and have to say was my best in having quality conversations. One theme centered around improvement of the customer experience. As an example, one utility executive mentioned the need to have Uber-like experience that shows drivers location on map as you wait Uber ride, and for their utility customers, they want this type of real-time customer experience showing service technicians that are in-bound for that customer.  Also, related to customer experience, the Duke Energy session outlined a new approach when considering updating legacy CIS systems in which they initially focused on the customer experience phase, then worked-in the backend technology for billing. This is a very interesting approach and one that has validity since the utility customer has become accustomed to the new digital customer engagement interface that delivers several new features such selling products (new revenue channels), chat bot for 24X7 connections, and opens all the appropriate communication channels desired by that customer, etc., so when the billing system upgrade is performed - there is very little disruption - if any at all. One of the best CS Week Conferences and we are looking forward to CS Week 2022 in Phoenix! 

Audra Drazga's picture
Audra Drazga on Sep 1, 2021

David - thanks for sharing.  I love the Uber-type approach for customer service.  I love companies that have these types of apps that show who is coming, when they will be there, etc.  I think this will be a great next step for many utilities.  Thanks for sharing! 

The ibex team very much appreciated the opportunity to attend the show in person and spend time with clients and new partners in Tampa.  The show may have been sparsely attended compared to normal years (whatever that means now), but attendees showed their passion and interest.  Sessions were well attended and mostly very active, and the conversations in the exhibit hall had more opportunity for deeper involvement.  Overall, we think CS Week went very well.

We heard a number of themes emerge, but a few topped virtually all conversations with utility attendees and key exhibitors.

1.  Budget Pressures  - COVID continues to pressure budgets for utilities of all commodities and sizes, as customer service costs increase and account delinquencies remain a risk.  General uncertainty about customers' ability to pay energy debts impacts operations as well as customer engagement, and politics probably exacerbates the situation for many utilities across multiple service regions.  It's clear that utilities need support to improve service while also finding operational efficiencies to reduce costs.


2.  New Revenue Opportunities - possibly the flip side of the budget pressure, more utilities asked partners and exhibitors about the need to find new revenue sources including selling new products or services to their customers.  Of course, wanting to sell new services or products to bring in new revenue also means finding new avenues for customer engagement and giving them a place to purchase non-commodity offers.  Which leads to interest in...


3.  Marketplaces - while utilities have been experimenting with marketplaces and making various investments, most do not build the repeat traffic that leads to steady sales.  We spoke to a lot of utilities interested in modernizing their digital experiences and adding marketplaces that can actually drive customer engagement and new revenue.  


4.  Customer Intelligence - in our discussions with utility visitors and several exhibitors, we heard a lot of questions about having better customer intelligence so that utilities could understand the impact their various programs had on the customer.  We heard a lot of questions about "how do we know if this program works?"  Those conversations suggest that utilities involved in CIS and CX Transformation continue to work on making sense of data and their customer feedback.  Several speakers talked about their VoC and CX journeys, and TECO showed us their progress on a three year plan to revitalize their Voice of the Customer program.  Social "voices" remain a challenge, but it's clear utilities are starting to engage in that challenging channel of choice for their customers.  


5. Contact Center Options - the contact center sessions had some of the best attendance and everyone focused on finding ways to eliminate work, streamline operations, and improve customer service while reducing costs.  Contact Center conversations always involved the budget challenges, as they usually do, but with more intensity this year as utilities have to manage overwhelming call volume, especially about highly sensitive issues this year.


Of course, the ultimate question from Tampa was "where is the coolest spot in the hall?"  Tampa certainly brought the heat and humidity this year, and it only took a few hours for attendees at this year's show to find their summer attire.  

Audra Drazga's picture
Audra Drazga on Aug 27, 2021

Mark - this is a great summary.  It will be interesting to see what the fall-out will be from COVID and its impacts on the utilities.  

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