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Ensuring a tech enabled customer experience

In a conversation with Infosys’ Ashiss Dash, leaders at Indiana based utility, Citizens Energy Group, share their thoughts on the organization’s customer experience journey, and how it is inexplicably linked to growth

Highlights

  • “Most utilities, dread planning and executing customer service transformation programs, primarily because these programs can be complex, they can run over budget, and are usually over schedule.” – Ashiss Dash
  • “Utilities (companies), in general, are trying to approach customer service a little bit differently, and they're putting more emphasis on it, partially because of evolving customer expectations.” – Curtis Popp
  • “(Our CIS) is a system that will provide us a foundation from which to expand choices and options for our customers.” – Jeff Ford

Any organization with a history of more than a century would have inevitably gone through the journey of building a deep understanding of its customers.

Indianapolis, Indiana, based utility service company, Citizens Energy Group (CEG), has been through this journey and understood that this relationship has changed significantly over some time. What used to, earlier, be mostly one-way communication, experiences consistent consumer feedback today.

Ashiss Dash, Head- Services, Utilities, Resources, Energy at Infosys deep dived into the working of a utilities company and the new customer demands while speaking with Curtis Popp, VP of customer operations, and Jeff Ford, Director of billing and customer service.

Speaking about the changing consumers, Dash notes that the times have indeed changed.

“The utility industry is facing heightened expectations from an increasingly involved consumer, a dynamic regulatory environment, and higher social stewardship responsibility as was made evident in the ongoing pandemic,” he says, while nothing that utility organizations are trying to address these through rapid digital transformation.

This is, however, not an easy task, says Dash.

“The utility industry is facing heightened expectations from an increasingly involved consumer, a dynamic regulatory environment, and higher social stewardship responsibility,” says Ashiss Dash.

“In many cases, their legacy systems, especially the customer service systems are unable to keep pace with the level of changes that are required,” he says, adding “Most utilities, dread planning and executing customer service transformation programs, primarily because these programs can be complex, they can run over budget, and are usually over schedule.”

Introducing the guests to the discussion, Dash notes that some enterprises such as CEG have changed this norm with very detailed planning, impeccable execution, and apt risk management. Add to that the delicate balancing act of giving the customers a good experience as well.

Answering a question on the changing customer expectations, Popp says that when it comes to utilities companies, most interactions begin with an issue of some sort. What also happens, he says, the strong presence of people on social media has a definite impact.

“I think companies are realizing how quickly reputations can be damaged, a lot of pain can be inflicted on your organization, because of a bad experience,” says Popp, adding, “So, I think utilities (companies), in general, are trying to approach customer service a little bit differently, and they're putting more emphasis on it, partially because of evolving customer expectations.”

“I think companies are realizing how quickly reputations can be damaged, a lot of pain can be inflicted on your organization, because of a bad experience,” says Curtis Popp.

What he also suggests that organizations like themselves are realizing that there's a real value proposition in delivering good customer service.

“There's a link between bottom-line results, and excellent customer service,” he says.

CEG, however, has been on the transformation journey for a while – it started in 2015 – and has since grown gradually to understand the value it brings to the business.

With the association, Infosys partnered with CEG to build a stable state-of-the-art Customer Information System (CIS), and Ford suggests that it has set up the utilities company for an efficient future.

“We have a Customer Information System now that has a large customer base that will support ongoing investment in enhancements and upgrades,” says Ford, adding, “It's a system that will provide us a foundation from which to expand choices and options for our customers.”

At that time, Ford says, the organization was operating a CIS that was 15-years old, and at that time, the upgrade path for the system was uncertain.

“We have a Customer Information System now that has a large customer base that will support ongoing investment in enhancements and upgrades,” says Jeff Ford.

However, with deliberate consideration, the organization began the process of implementation with Infosys as the implementation partner in late 2018, and over 22 months, Infosys worked on the implementation.

“And, in just this past July 2020, we went live on the system, on schedule, on time, and under budget,” says ford, while also adding that within a month or two, the contact center was already performing at pre-implementation levels.

This, with a billing accuracy of above 99%, and timeliness of above 95%.

“So now, after four months of post-go-live stabilization, we're confident we can we can refocus our efforts on new choices and options for our customers' continuous process improvement,” says Ford, adding: “And as Curtis said, delivering excellent support and service to our customers.”

To watch more of the in-depth discussion, visit .

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