Calling himself the “world’s greatest consumer,” utility watchdog Michael Shames helped in 1981 to create the Utility Consumers’ Action Network (UCAN), where he has served as executive director...
Engaging the consumer takes on new meaning.
with customers as easy and direct as possible, and ultimately encourage customer engagement with our company.
Forline, PSE&G: We realized that self-service was the direction that many of our customers were going in and we stepped up to the plate. In early 2009, we launched online convenience options, as part of a broad new, SAP-based customer-information system rollout, which won the CS Week award for best CIS implementation at a large company.
These convenience options, available to PSE&G customers through the ‘My Account’ self-service feature at www.pseg.com, enable customers to sign up for service contracts, schedule service appointments, report and view outage information, enroll in paperless billing, conduct a personalized home energy analysis and more.
Customers have been registering for My Account at a rate that exceeded all business-case projections. In less than a year and a half, more than 600,000 customers have signed up for My Account and are enjoying the services.
Some of the additional methods we use to encourage customer participation include electronic newsletters and energy analysis tools and calculators provided through Questline, a service of Tech Resources; email campaigns using Constant Contact and Campaign Monitor; and customer-relationship management processes to help facilitate enrollment in various company programs.
Jackson, Oncor: Our Street Light Outage Tracking System creates tickets using a google maps-based interface we developed internally. We hope to add interactive storm-related outage and weather information to these maps in the first quarter of 2011. Our Vertex customer-contact center will also pilot a new program this fall to offer live chat and text messaging. We’re also active in social media, using Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, and LinkedIn to communicate with various stakeholders throughout each day.
Fortnightly: Is customer resistance to utility engagement difficult to overcome?
Forline, PSE&G: Our experience is just the opposite. Our customers are engaged. We actively build our customer relationships, keep involved with our communities and solicit customer feedback through various channels. Most of our employees also live in our service territory and are PSE&G customers. PSE&G is one of the largest employers in the state. More important, we have employees on the front lines with customers each day.
Meter readers, appliance service technicians, electric trouble shooters and others visit customers’ neighborhoods and homes to provide quality service. Our 16 walk-in customer-service centers offer face-to-face service in a comfortable and convenient environment, and our two New Jersey-based call centers are staffed with highly-skilled professionals ready to respond to questions.
Engagement is not our challenge. Rather, it’s how to be as responsive as possible to the input we receive.
Jackson, Oncor : Customers are eager to engage with us. Our only challenge is managing their expectations. People under 30 have lived entirely in a wired world and want to report streetlight outages or see a map of weather-related outages online, so for them, AskOncor.com is ideal. Other customers want to speak with a real live human being, and our Ask Oncor open houses make them feel welcome.
Schinski, PPL: The increasing number of customers that are using our many online tools and our interactive phone