Personalized Customer Service & Data Management Drive Utility’s New Business Installation On-Time Start Rates to 90%
- Jul 26, 2021 9:19 pm GMT
This item is part of the Special Issue - 2021-07 - Utility Customer Care, click here for more
In today’s rapidly changing energy landscape, consumers continue to raise their customer service standards and expectations for utility providers beyond delivering reliable, safe energy. Recognizing that consumers have a choice when it comes to their energy provider and the importance of a great first impression, a large California natural gas utility decided to take an innovative approach to enhancing their new business customers’ experience.
In 2018, the New Business Operations and District Planning Manager reached out to Agile Sourcing Partners (Agile) to collaborate on an enriched customer experience solution for new business service installations. With more than 15 years’ experience in business process optimization, Agile developed a customer-centric data management solution that focused on personalized customer engagement from initial contact throughout the service installation journey.
In partnership with the utility, Agile designed, implemented, and established a new customer service program centered on three key business objectives:
- Providing all new business customers with exceptional service and streamlined interactions
- Increasing efficiencies, on-time job installations, and schedule adherence
- Gaining online visibility to new business service installation data and performance metrics
In addition to providing program design and oversight, Agile worked with the utility’s stakeholders to carefully develop a scalable program that met short and long-term goals, while blending seamlessly into the company’s culture.
Agile’s newly created customer service team began quarterbacking new business service installations by coordinating appointments with builders, homeowners, utility planners, and the assigned third-party contractor crews. Key customer touchpoints were established and documented to improve communications and ensure timely responses to new business customer questions and concerns. Installation delays, missed job starts, and reschedule reasons were documented and trended on Agile’s data management platform, delivering key insights for root-cause analysis and immediate mitigation. Within the first six months, Agile’s effective management of the program increased customer satisfaction and improved new business service on-time starts by 11%. As the department evolved, the utility added the entire breadth of their over 10,000 new business service installations each year to the program. For the very first time, the utility had in-depth visibility to all new business service installation data, allowing them to performance benchmark by installer (contractor/internal crew), district, and crew, down to the specific superintendent assigned to the job.
Phase II: Due to the success of Phase I, an Agile-led New Business Customer Care department was added to the program in early 2020 to further drive the utility’s customer service focus and vision. The department’s mission was to provide new business customers with personalized, “white glove” installation support. Dedicated customer service specialists became the single point of contact for new business customers and crews, facilitating the entire new service installation process from new contract submission to final service turn-on. Additional performance improvements were realized, with current on-time new business start rates over 9% higher since 2020, positively impacting over 1,500 new business customers. An added benefit was the reduction in personnel required by the utility to manage new business customer service issues and tactical installation scheduling activities. Although the original program objectives have been accomplished and new business on-time starts are currently at 90%, the program continues to mature and develop due to the commitment of both organizations to excellence and year-over-year continuous improvement.
Agile’s comprehensive new business customer service program included staffing and management of two customer service teams, new hire onboarding and training, standard operating procedure (SOP) development, data-driven analysis and recommendations, key performance indicator (KPI) tracking, and the creation of a custom computer application suite for monitoring the program’s performance and effectiveness. Agile’s tailored customer service solution resulted in the following benefits to the utility and its new business customers:
- Personalized new business customer engagement increased customer satisfaction and positively impacted the utility’s brand, reputation, and public image
- Improved crew productivity and accountability to achieve overall new business on-time performance rate of 90%
- Streamlined, optimized installations managed and coordinated by a dedicated, centralized team from start to finish
- Reduction in the time required by internal utility personnel and crews to support new business service installations, contractors, and customer concerns
- Advanced awareness of schedule impacts, allowing for reprioritization of jobs or reallocation of labor resources
- Real-time, 24/7 access to program data, such as new business service installation schedules, crew performance, and customer communications
Agile specializes in turnkey, customer-centric solutions using business process optimization (BPO) and digital transformation tools to drive operational and business performance. Our experienced resources employ industry best practices and technology to deliver tailored, cost-effective business solutions that improve efficiencies and increase agility.
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