Contact centers in public utilities face increasing pressure to trim costs and find creative ways to respond. At the same time, customers have elevated service expectations based on their experience with other centers. It’s a real Catch-22.
We have worked with many utilities to help them make effective use of technology as a means of bridging the resource gap. These projects explore a variety of opportunities, such as:
- Developing multi-channel strategies that consider self-service and assisted service
- Designing prompts, routing, and skills to encourage use of self-service while supporting connection to the right parties, thereby minimizing transfers
- Implementing proactive outbound notification to provide updates on power outages, thereby avoiding a flurry of inbound calls
- Defining requirements and evaluating vendors for technology replacement and enhancement across the spectrum of contact center technologies (e.g., multi-channel routing and reporting, IVR, CTI, WFM, QM, analytics, etc.)
- Leveraging proactive outbound notification for payment reminders to supplant a “live” outbound call and (hopefully) avoid collections or service termination
- Building an efficient agent desktop to provide ready access to customer information and knowledge resources
- Navigating the selection process to secure the right outsourcing partner to manage after hours and/or peak calling periods, and then developing processes to ensure effective collaboration
Technology isn’t just an efficiency play. It also provides much-needed agility when the center would otherwise be inundated with contacts. Storms and natural disasters are obvious occasions for unplanned service disruptions that trigger contact. Yet atypical rate changes that accompany other natural phenomena (e.g., drought) can also give rise to heavy inbound traffic. The center needs a means to respond to all these queries without straining its human resources. Proper planning for both self-service and assisted service helps utilities feel prepared for whatever nature – or humanity – can throw at them.
We’ve also worked with a number of co-ops for which informal customer service operations have had to give way to a formal contact center. With internal growth and/or merger, the “good people find a way” approach that historically crossed departmental bounds, filled procedural gaps, or solved customer problems becomes increasingly difficult to sustain. We’ve helped them move to formal business processes with specific roles and responsibilities along with enabling technology to manage call loads, workflows, tracking, and performance management.
When technology affects tried-and-true ways of doing business, we work with management on the people side of change (a.k.a. “change management”). We help develop communications strategies that will engage contact center agents in the process and technology changes that improve service levels for customers. We also think through the training and reinforcement requirements to equip agents to make the transition. This discipline is especially important for union shops in which the shift to a performance-based mentality represents a significant cultural adjustment.
As public utilities and co-ops develop their technology road map and move toward a procurement cycle, we provide impartial guidance on which avenues are most promising for pursuit and which vendors are best suited to meet their requirements. We have the depth and breadth of experience in this industry to know what really works, help clients steer clear of marketing hype, and negotiate a fair price and appropriate statements of work and service level agreements from vendors.
Contact us to discuss your circumstances »