energycioinsights

Exelon Utilities Meeting the Need to Exceed Customer Expectations through Innovation

By Michael Menendez, Information Technology VP, Customer, BGE (Baltimore Gas and Electric Company)

Michael Menendez, Information Technology VP, Customer, BGE (Baltimore Gas and Electric Company)

Background

Customers’ needs are evolving at a rapid pace, along with their expectations for how they communicate with their service providers.  The Exelon utilities – Atlantic City Electric in New Jersey, BGE in Maryland, ComEd in Illinois, Delmarva in Delaware and Maryland, PECO in Pennsylvania, and Pepco in the District of Columbia – are  striving to not only meet the new and evolving expectations of customers, but to exceed them with an  array of innovative choices.

“We are now focusing on offering an “omni channel” experience that will provide continuity across all digital channels”

Offering Customers a Choice

Customers are now accustomed to getting the information they want in the way they want it.  Doing business with any of the Exelon Utilities should be no different.  Cornerstone to this, for the energy industry, is a portfolio of digital offerings so the customer can use what suits them best.  For example, some customers prefer Interactive Voice Response (IVR), where customers can request information by voice or selecting key pads on a phone.  Other customers may prefer to conduct as much business as possible on their mobile devices, and so on.

Mobile technology is a game changer.  Use of mobile devices currently outpaces the use of desktops or laptops.  To stay ahead of the pace, BGE and the other Exelon utilities are working to l upgrade all websites later this year with responsive design technology.  This automatically scales the website to the specific device the customer is using at the time.  We are also working on a new downloadable Mobile App, which provide customers with yet another digital choice.

Our new Preference Center allows our customers to tell us how they want to receive which information.  For example, text alerts for outages, calls for service restoration, emails for high energy usage, etc., creating a personalized energy experience for each of our customers.

The Future of Digital Channels

The digital customer experience will continue to evolve.  Initially, companies were offering a single channel – typically the web – as an alternative to calling their call center.  Now, new channels have emerged, such as mobile.  To optimize the customer experience, we are focusing on offering an “omni-channel” experience that will provide continuity across all digital channels.  An omni-channel strategy takes into account each platform and device a customer will use to interact with a company. This approach allows for an integrated experience. Companies can now develop messaging, goals and designs that are uniform across each channel and device.  With the omni-channel experience, the customer can start a transaction in one channel and pick right back up where they left off at any time on any digital channel.

Further, we will leverage analytics to evaluate customer usage patterns and offer customers what they want before they even request it.

The Exelon Utilities have already started to leverage analytics within our digital channels.  Our new IVR leverages “predictive intent” technology.  Now our IVR can quickly, and automatically, evaluate a wide range of data and predict why a customer is calling – automatically routing them to their most likely intended destination.

Social media continues to play a critical role and is an important brand touch that must be considered when shaping a company’s digital strategy to ensure it fits into the overall customer experience strategy.  Social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter provide the ability for a company to quickly and proactively reach out to customers directly to address their concerns.  The statistics bear out that more and more millennial customers are utilizing mobile technology and social media as preferred communication channels.  Millennials are pushing the industry in a positive way to offer straight forward user experiences that are enabled for any device.

Conclusion

Customer satisfaction has become central to our technology decision making approach.  We have a rigorous business case driven technology investment process where we evaluate the impacts on customer satisfaction just like we would on more traditional measures like return on investment or payback period.

The digital customer experience we offer must be flexible, simple, connected and predictive.  Flexible by giving the customer options, simple by making the service easy to use, connected by aligning all of the digital channels and predictive by understanding the needs of the customer, and where they want to go next.  The Exelon Utilities are well along this journey and will continue to innovate and find ways to enhance the customer experience.

One of the biggest traps we have to be mindful of is thinking we know what our customers want.  We need to ask our customers what they want and shape their experience using an outside-in approach.