Once appeased by the beep, whir, whizz of dial-up Internet, consumers’ patience is now tested by even the slightest lull in Web connectivity or a dropped call and companies in all industries are challenged to keep up.
Utility customers now expect customer service reps to act not only as problem-solvers, but as “trusted energy advisors.” According to J.D. Power and Associates, the top five elements contributing to these growing expectations are:
- Promptness in connecting with a representative
- Knowledge of representative
- Courtesy of representative
- Representative’s concern for customer’s needs
- Timely resolution of issue
The culmination of these factors in the utility industry, specifically, puts a considerable amount of pressure on agents, especially when dealing with a flood of call types in the midst of a storm. The odds stack against representatives before they even greet a customer-in-need.
How can utilities alleviate this pressure on their customer service representatives? As one of the primary catalysts behind high-volume utility calls, outage scenarios offer the answers needed.
Determined to provide utility customers the peace-of-mind they crave when the power goes out, Alabama Power leverages a Mutual Assistance Routing System (MARS) to help affected utility partners across the United States respond to excessive call volumes.
When every call needs answered and a human-touch is key, MARS is a vital tool in ensuring every voice is heard. While impacted by a storm, utility companies can lean on specialized customer service representatives in unaffected parts of the country to make sure every call is handled readily. MARS even allows for the re-allocation of emergency equipment, like trucks, when resources are in high demand.
“It’s better than a busy signal by far,” said Wesley Higgins of Alabama Power.
“When we’re responding to an upset customer from another part of the country, they hear our Southern dialect and sometimes ask us where we’re from. They’re really ‘wowed’ when they realize that their utility reached out and took the extra effort to ensure their phone call was answered. The MARS program has worked out great for us.”
When severe weather comes rolling in, customers have little patience for service interruption or busy signals. MARS is just one tool utility companies are leveraging to achieve better communication in emergency situations.
Many utility companies have thoughtful communication strategies in place to keep customers in-the-know throughout a storm, and often leverage High-Volume Call Answering Systems (HVCA) to ensure every call is answered quickly and consistently…No matter the scenario. Every single caller can quickly report an outage and acquire essential information via an intuitive system, while utilities free up agents to address more complicated call types. Talk about a win-win.
Utility companies across the country understand the struggle to provide “timely” customer care in a world where everything keeps moving faster. Leading companies exceed rising customer demand by implementing the tools necessary to efficiently address every customer in need, thoughtfully automate the right interactions and free up agents to respond to callers when they need help the most.