Set up to serve? Why customer service is set to be a key differentiator for water and energy providers

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1 Set up to serve? Why customer service is set to be a key differentiator for water and energy providers

2 78% buy more from companies that make it easier. 39% comment on Facebook or Twitter about customer service. Customers finding it easy are 40% less likely to churn. We ve improved productivity by eight per cent for 14,000 engineers. 2

3 Executive summary We live in the age of the consumer. Technology is changing the way we live, shop and work. It has empowered people. In this world, customer loyalty is not quite dead, but it is changing. Now, customers do business with companies that don t make things difficult. Easy is the new loyalty. Making things easy for customers and putting them at the heart of the business means changing the way you do things. It means using new technology and new ways of working. In large, complex organisations this is a massive challenge. Often the way the business is organised actively discourages putting the customer first because an excellent customer experience depends upon everyone in the organisation having a clear line of sight to the customer. Of course, change is never easy, but improving the systems and processes that underpin your approach to customer service will have a positive knock-on effect right across the business. Meeting the needs of a new generation of customers will mean working smarter and more efficiently; it will mean reducing costs and being more agile. It will be a transformation. This white paper outlines the consumer and technology trends that are having an impact on customer service, and introduces six areas to focus on that will help the business reposition itself. It also highlights some of the technology and tools available now and on the horizon that will help meet these new customer expectations. 3

4 Easy is the new loyalty Loyalty is a difficult thing for utilities. Customer contact is often restricted to billing and complaints. People simply expect their water, gas and electricity supplies to be there when they need them, so it s hard to differentiate on the basis of product which is why the customer experience is so important. There has been a lot of talk in recent years about the death of loyalty. Loyalty is not dead, but it s changing. What s driving loyalty now is effort. Customers will go back to companies who don t make their lives difficult. Easy is the new loyalty. There are four main types of effort: 1. Cognitive the amount of mental energy required to process something. Here, too much choice can be a bad thing and good design makes a real impact. 2. Time how long it will take to wait, consume and transact. Queues are the most visible. 3. Physical how much physical energy it takes to do something (such as travel to buy or carry stuff home). 4. Emotional how much negative versus positive energy is required. So how do you make things easy for customers? Customers generally fall into three camps: 1. Visionaries who are positive and goal motivated. 2. Utilitarians who want to get something simple done, quickly and easily. 3. Customers in crisis who want human channels (phone or face-to-face). 4

5 In a multichannel world, customers will choose the most appropriate channel based on their state of mind and what they want to achieve. But that doesn t mean they will stay in just one channel they will almost always hop across channels to get the result they want as quickly as possible. 78% say I buy more from companies that make it easier for me to do business. Easy plays a major part in this. And what s easy these days when you wander about with a PC in your pocket? Digital. Fair Hard work Easy-o-meter Easy We re seeing a huge rise in the popularity of digital channels such as online chat and social media. These are immediate and easy for customers, certainly compared to the agony of tennis and the frustrations of voice prompts. Assuming, of course, that the agents are empowered to deal with things there and then. 39% used their smartphone to comment on Facebook or Twitter about customer service just received. Why measure Easy? Asking customers to rate how easy it was to get what they wanted helps: highlight areas of frustration engage staff and make their lives easier too streamline and improve processes drive advocacy, value for money and loyalty Easy can be applied to all channels and lower effort also means lower cost. Research shows customers finding it easy are 40% less likely to churn. 5

6 How digital channels affect the contact centre Picking up the phone is still the number one way for people to get in touch at the moment. But there are signs that this is changing and the trends we re seeing will have a major impact on traditional contact centre strategies. Our Autonomous Customer research found that 49% of calls to contact centres are now more complex in nature. And 54% of centre managers believe that contact centres will primarily deal with complex calls and queries by What will be the Primary Role of the Contact Centre in 2020? Complaint handling Proactive outbound Cross sell/upsell Complex problem solving Inbound, transactional Other It seems traditional Social media contact centres, with 11a focus on call volumes, need to be re-thought. Customers Videowho call tend 7 Complaint handling 8 to have a more complex problem or be dealing with an Webchat emergency. For everything else, they re finding it easier using 40 Proactive outbound 6 other channels. And the one that s 4 Cross sell/upsell 4 really catching on, for both agents and Phone 36 Complex customers, problem is webchat. solving 54 Other 2 Inbound, transactional 24 What are the Core Other Channels that 4 the Future Contact Centre will be handling? Social media Video Webchat Phone Other In a digital world, webchat is easy. It has the potential to combine instant access with problem resolution and it enables agents to engage with multiple chats (though we d recommend 2-3 max at any one time!) 6

7 From contact centre to relationship hub In the next few years, we expect to see the contact centre evolve into a relationship hub in order to more intelligently and effectively meet the needs of a new, more technologically sophisticated audience. The current model, of processing calls quickly using scripted assistance, is already being eroded. Contact centre staff need to become empowered knowledge workers using the same tools and technology and access to information as their smartphone wielding customers. With these new powers, businesses can better manage customer expectations they can use social media to proactively keep customers informed and manage demand. And then there s the potential of video. People are becoming used to video chats with far-flung family and friends. For contact centres, you have the potential to actually see problems and diagnose solutions to speed resolution time. 7

8 Six key considerations for transforming the business... The rise of social media and multichannel customer care is changing the role of the contact centre. But that s just the tip of the iceberg. To transform the customer experience, you need to change the whole mindset of the organisation. BT s customer experience MD Andrew Jones is currently heading a project that aims to transform how the various lines of business in BT relate to one another to try and get systems and processes to run along more natural lines and to give everyone in the organisation a clear line of sight to the customer. Andrew has the full backing of BT Group s CEO and they meet weekly to discuss progress and outline the next steps. It s all very well saying you ll put the customer at the heart of everything, he explains, but in big organisations like BT, that s not always so easy to do in practice. Sometimes the way you are organised makes it impossible to provide the level of service you want. Seeing your organisation through your customers eyes forces you to reassess your values and to talk differently to your team and your colleagues. You discover, once you start on this journey, that it s not about one or two things making a difference. It s a sum of parts experience and almost everything feeds into the process. Andrew believes there are six key things businesses need to take into consideration. 1 Get CEO sponsorship and benchmark good service It s hugely important to get buy-in from the board. Part of the process is benchmarking and defining what is good service. And the financial impact of not getting things right will play a part in getting everyone onside. 2 Focus on things that are obviously broken Having a vision is great, but you can t afford to focus too far ahead on things that may currently be unachievable. You ll find it more beneficial to customers and the business to focus your early energy on things that you can fix right now. 8

9 ... and putting the customer at the heart of everything 3 Change the balance of power and align customer journeys Most power relationships in large organisations are top-down and siloed. But customer journeys cut across these artificial divisions. The difficulty here is getting objectives aligned across divisions and that means getting the measures and tools in place to track customers right across the business, so you re able to aggregate call and click data and build a clearer picture of what s going on. 4 Invest in resources The technology, connectivity and data we have available to us opens the doors to almost limitless possibilities. And it s important to focus on the tools and innovations that support your aims. So, for example, weather data analytics combined with real-time tracking is helping BT get the right engineers in the right place before there s a problem. Similarly, new tools are flagging issues the moment a customer order is delayed or stopped in the system. 5 Track the emotional journey How customers feel about you affects how they do business with you. It all comes back to making it easy. Social media listening tools, web analytics and contact centre feedback will all help to plot an emotional journey and highlight where and when customers are happy or not. 6 Build in recovery management How do you get it right, when you ve got it wrong? It s important that you have the people in place to jump on any issue before it spirals out of control and becomes a social media disaster. Case management teams can pick up the complex issues that fall between other teams to repair any damage, but root cause analysis will help avoid it in the future. 9

10 Getting the right tools for the job In the energy and utilities sector, perceptions of excellent service hinge on three things: a charging structure that s considered reasonable; a consistent supply; and how any supply interruptions are handled. Charging structures are largely a matter for the relevant regulatory bodies but using technology to weave agility into the structure of such businesses is an ideal way to support a consistent supply. Putting in place the right workforce optimisation technologies, so that the people on the ground can work as efficiently and effectively as possible, makes sure any supply issues can be tackled before they become significant problems. Openreach, a BT business, is charged with maintaining the BT local access network across the UK on behalf of its customers the UK s communications providers. Openreach has 30,000+ engineers, managers, admin support and contact centre staff maintaining the network on a daily basis. The organisation deals with about ,000 individual jobs every week. Traditionally engineers were organised by geographic patches and had very localised ways of working not helped by disjointed processes. Now, smart technology and access to real-time data through new business apps means the business can plan, react and respond more intelligently. The use of an all-in-one field tool increases the efficiency of the 14,000-strong mobile workforce and provides the ability to track jobs, communicate with each other and pass new benefits on to the customer straight away. Mobile device management technology means new apps and updates to existing apps can be pushed out to the smartphones, keeping everyone operating at maximum efficiency. Similarly, Openreach can speed time to market for new products because the necessary information can be sent to engineers mobile devices. You can read the full case study on 10

11 Standout apps for field engineers 35 smartphone apps have been developed and are being used, including: My Jobs transmits new jobs to field engineers the moment they re assigned and allows individual engineers to quickly report job progress and tests conducted throughout the working day. It also incorporates barcode reading to track materials used in specific jobs, and signature capture enabling customers to sign-off on job completion. View My Team enables local managers to see where each team member is in the field and how they are progressing with individual jobs in real time and as the day moves on. Managers use in-built satnav and GPS data to locate engineers and organise visits if required. Field Quality Check allows managers to ensure that each job meets quality and safety standards and compliance. Prove It enables field engineers to quickly deal with incidents encountered on the job, including accidents. Engineers take photos, make notes, and date and time-stamp the incident as part of a single report that s transmitted quickly back to the office. Swap My Shift does exactly what it says on the tin. If a field engineer wants to swap a shift with a colleague they can use the application to see where team members are located, what skills each has, and their availability. The swap request is sent to the colleague, as well as the manager, to ensure coverage. We ve improved productivity by eight per cent for 14,000 engineers. That means Openreach is completing tens of thousands more jobs every single week. Peter Bowden, business engagement and change delivery manager, Openreach 11

12 Innovation, technology, customer experience and the bottom line We ve seen how technology and consumer trends are putting pressure on traditional contact centre models. And we ve looked at the importance of gearing up the whole business to put the customer experience front and centre. Arming your frontline troops with better information and the right tools is a major part of this, but technology innovation can boost the customer experience in a whole host of ways. Anticipating problems Fibre optic technology can transform the way you assess problems as it can squeeze into small spaces and sense leaks by their sound. Fibre Sensing can help you save large amounts of money by accurately pinpointing the site of an excavation to repair a leak and it can even predict an equipment failure. In the same way, low-cost sensors on remote devices mean engineers don t need to be deployed to check equipment. All kinds of information can be gathered almost instantly and then analysed to see what needs to be done before it affects the business. 12

13 Predictive analysis Analytics tools that use artificial intelligence can make sense of huge amounts of data by identifying patterns and predicting how an incident might develop. Combining this information with expertise and experience means you can carry out effective contingency planning. Predictive analytics can also follow the information flow in the contact centre, and identify problems in the process, to help you get the customer experience right, first time. And by monitoring social media, you can quickly respond to and manage feedback. You can use big data tools to help interpret all kinds of customer information, as well as keeping a close eye on the competition. Proactive crisis management Prevention is better than cure but if something does go wrong, it s how you react to it that counts. Cloud services can help a contact centre manage unprecedented demand without going into meltdown. For example, engaging people on social media means you can manage expectations, push updates out and keep customers in the picture so they don t need to call. You can also use innovations like personalised video content or send voice, text, and messages to a group with one click, to help reduce the volume of calls that come in during an emergency. If people do call, you can set your IVR to keep customers up to date with automatic messages. And there are tools which allow smart phone users to view all of the IVR options, see images that explain what to do, or to take a photograph to help get a faster diagnosis. Smarter working You can reduce costs and increase efficiency right across the business by being smart with technology. We ve already looked at how technology can help those out in the field by transforming the way jobs are allocated, engineers are deployed and equipment is distributed. But in the same way, remote cameras mean that the experts no longer have to travel to every major incident. Instead, experts using video calls can be networked with colleagues at the scene and gain up to date information on the issue and provide timely advice. And all of this depends on having a secure, reliable joinedup platform underpinning the business. 13

14 Case study snapshot: Western Power From mission impossible to award-winning customer service centre Western Power is responsible for the safe, reliable, and efficient distribution and transmission of electricity in the south-west region of Western Australia. Its electricity network is the largest interconnected power network in the state 88,000 kilometres of power lines provide electricity to one million homes, businesses and public buildings, as well as to 150,000 streetlights. But unpredictable weather patterns played havoc with Western Power s customer service operations as calls shot up from 2,000 to 260,000 a day. Previously, the tactic was to rope in everyone they could, which meant admin people, office and metering staff and even executives all had to pitch in to help deal with the massive spikes in call volumes. How technology can be a real game changer A cloud-based contact centre solution now helps Western Power react faster. It can deal with hundreds of thousands of calls and, by introducing a multichannel approach, the company can be much more proactive. It now uses social media to inform customers and reduce the need for them to call and its IVR messages automatically update in near real-time, by postcode. Since getting the new cloud based omni-channel contact centre platform in place, Western Power has seen an increase in staff retention and customer satisfaction (while dealing with over a million calls a year). With 87.5 per cent of calls answered within 30 seconds it s recorded the best service levels in the history of the organisation. Bronze Medal: Best Medium Sized Contact Centre - Contact Center World (CCW) Awards 2012 Gold Medal: Best Medium Sized Contact Centre in Asia Pacific APAC - Contact Center World (CCW) Awards 2012 Gold Medal: National Customer Service Excellence Awards (Medium) - Customer Service Council (CSC)

15 About the author Simon Ormston is head of utilities at BT Global Services and has the exciting role of bringing the best of BT to customers in the utilities sector. He is an experienced strategy, transformation and marketing director, has worked as a management consultant and has held senior positions in the technology and financial services sectors. Simon holds an MBA, MSC (Marketing Management), is a Chartered Marketer and qualified programme and project manager. You can Simon at call him on or contact him via LinkedIn. Sources and further reading The Autonomous Customer BT/Avaya research papers (Davies Hickman 2013) It s good to chat: Webchat and the contact centre (2013) Customer Effort: Help or Hype? Professor Moira Clark and Andrew Bryan, The Henley Centre for Customer Management, April 2013 Super Agent 2020: What will the contact centre of the future look like? Dr Nicola J. Millard & Dr Tanya Alcock What Matters Most: The expectations of a new generation of water and energy consumers BT (2013) You can download the reports and research referenced in this white paper on: 15

16 Visit for information about BT for Utilities Offices worldwide The telecommunications services described in this publication are subject to availability and may be modified from time to time. Services and equipment are provided subject to British Telecommunications plc s respective standard conditions of contract. Nothing in this publication forms any part of any contract. British Telecommunications plc 2014 Registered office: 81 Newgate Street, London EC1A 7AJ Registered in England No: Designed by Westhill.co.uk Printed in England PHME 72204

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