Engaged contact center teams are imperative to creating an excellent customer experience

Ruchi Solanki, Research Analyst –

The contact center is the first line of defense when it comes to customer interactions. As the “face and voice” of the company, it is imperative that the customer service representatives are engaging and educated on the different programs and initiatives that the utility delivers, which is no short order.

In fact, news of bad customer service reaches more than two times as many people than praise does for a good service experience and it takes 12 positive experiences to make up for one unresolved negative experience. The cost of bad customer service is way too high for companies to ignore. Thus it is essential, in any industry, to make sure that call center representatives are well trained and suited to create a positive customer experience.

Utilities are making it a priority to enhance their contact centers in order to form robust teams that are more customer-centric. In 2014, Ameren Missouri saw a need within their own contact center to increase employee engagement and customer satisfaction. The utility hired advisors to help with customer interaction training for the CSRs and coaching training for supervisors to better effectively communicate among the call center personnel. The leadership was able to communicate expectations more clearly and increase enthusiasm and engagement through recognition and rewards. In May 2016, the utility was presented with the International Customer Management Institute’s “Most Improved Contact Center” Award.

Alabama Power sought to personalize follow-up interactions through its card-writing initiative to help invest in the quality of customer interactions with CSRs rather than just focus on the metrics. The utility chose to design and create its own cards in-house to customers who were experiencing an event in their lives from congratulatory announcements to “thinking of you” templates. This helped create an environment for CSRs to hone their listening skills and empathy with customers

The Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) has a loyalty team that provides specialized service to their customers on a variety of issues outside the scope of routine calls. This team assists customers in programs related to smart grid technologies and are tasked with handling specialized accounts for a variety of pilot programs that SMUD employs. The team is able to help alleviate call escalations while maintaining the utility’s Customer Experience Excellence initiative.

If you want to learn more about SMUD’s contact center, make sure to register for Chartwell’s webinar this Wednesday, June 14 at 2 p.m. Eastern and join Tiffany McRae, SMUD’s Customer Service Supervisor, in discussing the utility’s unique approach to the team’s formation and training process.

If you are interested in learning more about how other utilities are approaching their contact center goals and initiatives, join Chartwell’s Customer Experience Research Council by emailing Tim Herrick at therrick@chartwellinc.com.

 

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