How utility call centers are digitizing the art of human touch

by Whitney Salmons | published on October, 2020

When you think of your company's call center, your first thought is of the cutting-edge technology they are using to improve the customer experiences...right? Well, maybe. You also might be thinking of an old, stuffy methodology that's stuck in the past. Yet, in reality, utility companies are having a major impact when leveraging their call centers to marry the benefits of human interaction with the growing need for real-time, digitized results. 

Either as a first step or last resort, customers often reach for their phones when they are in a bind. Whether they are experiencing an outage, have a billing question, or need help navigating a website, there are times customers just need to speak to a live person. 

Journey intervention — the earlier, the better

Older male in a headset who is a utility call center agent using a case management system to better serve customers.

Let's think about what that journey typically looks like: Our customer, Jane, is trying to report a downed tree limb near a power line. She is worried it could be unsafe or cause an outage. She has looked online for a way to report her concern and has called her utility provider three times to try to confirm that a crew will be sent to address the tree limb. On her fourth call, after being transferred to a few representatives, the company confirms they will send a crew the next day to address the downed limb. 

Could the call center have leveraged their tools to improve that customer journey? Could the journey have been interrupted earlier to place that customer on a better path? Absolutely. 

Integrative case management systems digitize call center processes without compromising the value of human interaction. The return on investment is immediate — when companies can interrupt strayed customer journeys, they save money as call volume declines. Happy customers cost less to service. 

So, how are companies using case management to help their customers and meet their internal business goals?

Case management contributes to a more positive customer experience 

Case management tools provide near real-time survey data for customer calls. When customers take a survey after their interaction with a call center representative (or another touchpoint), that data is immediately integrated into the case management system. Survey responses captured through AI-enabled surveys provide a richer experience for respondents and in-depth context for call center staff. Customer service agents can access survey results, customer voice recordings, and customer-specific data in one easy-to-access site — no cross-referencing for contact information or account numbers necessary. 

Low-scoring cases (which signify unhappy customers) are immediately filtered into an alert system and assigned a case owner, who can then follow up with individual customers within 24 hours of their initial call. This follow-up puts the customer back on the path to satisfaction and helps them feel heard after their initial frustration. 

Within a digital case, owners have access to:

  • The customer's past calls
  • Case progress
  • Notes to track the case's progress

This information helps agents personalize the follow-up call and spend less time on the phone closing the loop with the customer. Think back to our example — for Jane, these systems could have alleviated her frustration and addressed her concerns more quickly. Jane's first call would have been flagged as a hot case, and an agent could have followed up and tracked her case progress within 24 hours — eliminating the need for Jane's three follow-up calls and department transfers. 

Case management improves KPIs 

A comprehensive case management system also helps companies track KPIs across their organization. While there may be thousands of data points on agent performance, digitized, real-time reporting keeps data documented, organized, and easy to reference. When a case requesting company follow-up is opened, metrics on how quickly the case was resolved are easy to track via dashboards and quick-reference pages. Agents and their managers can also automatically receive emails reminding them to follow up on any open cases. 

Housing data in a consolidated digital platform enables companies to analyze results at various levels. This means stakeholders can see an overview of the company's performance and drill down to each agent's performance. Via coaching tools, supervisors and managers can help their agents continuously improve performance and resolve customer pain points. 

As cases are closed, organizations can leverage each case's value by coding customer concerns into categories, helping the company keep a pulse on call trends. This cumulative trending insight helps reveal larger pivots that an organization may need. Suppose 40% of call volume is related to website difficulties. In that case, the utility company can better inform their next steps to address improving their digital user experience.

Let's get digital 

How are call centers maintaining their personal touch and keeping up with the real-time demands of a digital age? They are leveraging digital systems to support the human experience via Bellomy's case management system and online reporting tools.

Now, when you think of your company's call center, what is your first thought? Hopefully, you are starting to see a picture of how your call centers can serve your customers and your business's overall health. 

Contact one of our customer experience specialists to start maximizing your customer experience with case management.