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Enabling leading performance in utility customer service

Each year PA honours North American utility industry leaders through our annual ReliabilityOne™ and ServiceOne awards. These awards highlight utility organisations that have established performance based cultures and strive for improvement in customer service every day. 

One concept is common among the award winners: superior performance takes dedication and the will not only to develop an improvement strategy, but to drive it forward across an expanding number of challenges. These challenges are extremely evident today across the meter to cash lifecycle. The implementation of best practices in the various areas of that lifecycle is what has placed several companies among the top recipients.

Improving cost performance in credit and collections 
In collection environments where moratoriums impact performance, utilities with industry leading cost performance have incorporated the following practices into their broader collections strategy: 

  • increase securitisation on all accounts

  • use available services from credit bureaus to identify active customers with trailing debt

  • work with collection agencies to increase yields through added incentives, champion-challenger methods or better information

  • re-score customers using credit bureau services to better understand how customers are paying other obligations

  • place closer scrutiny on commercial accounts through improved analysis and securitization.

Enhancing customer service with more self service 
For several years, utilities have been slowly making progress in converting customers from paper bill to e-bill.  The industry average for percentage of customers on e-bill is roughly 8% based on data from our Polaris utility benchmarking and performance improvement program.  Leading performers have achieved 15%+ and have realised the savings in postage as well as improved customer satisfaction.  

To succeed, utilities are starting to look at external customer information to gain insights how their customers interact with other service providers.  Utilities can then target specific strategies to the customer segments with the highest likelihood for accepting e-bill over paper and direct debit over check payment. 

Improving call centre productivity without sacrificing customer service 
The common thinking in call centre operations is that the drive to higher productivity can be achieved at the expense of customer satisfaction. Polaris data has demonstrated that this is not necessarily true.  By avoiding the inertia these contradictions can create, top performing utilities have been able to achieve significantly greater productivity through:

  • effective and frequent monitoring activities linked to training solutions (eg, talk and type) to minimise handle times and streamline the process of navigating through CIS screens

  • adopting a specialist model when it comes to handling various call types to achieve greater efficiency and satisfaction. 

PA has found that the selective implementation of these and other best practices put utility companies in the position to raise the bar in a very difficult operating environment.

To find out how we can help your utility organisation achieve leading performance in customer service, please contact us now.

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