Posted by Christopher Kelly
Every utility has to deal with customer trim requests; it’s the nature of the game (yes, pun intended). In fact, one of Clearion’s largest customers gets roughly 60,000 customer calls per year. It’s mind boggling. Yet, many utilities still do not have closed-loop processes. For some, the customer call is received, captured in their system, coded as a tree-related issue and, from there, the process begins to break down. An email is sent to the vegetation management team where a paper ticket is printed and given to the field but what happens next? Does the arborist provide information back to the call center? If the customer calls back for a status update, is real-time information available or is time spent tracking down the status? If another customer calls to report the same issue, are the two records connected? Or is another ticket issued to the field resulting in additional, costly windshield time?
Today’s customers are accustomed to accessing information immediately from their tablets and smartphones. Think of order and shipping status for Amazon and UPS, gate changes and departure status for flights on United, and exact car location (along with driver name, make of car and license plate number) on Uber. And with that sea change comes the realization that customers have higher expectations and utilities have a choice to appear archaic and less competent by comparison or seen as progressive, innovative companies.
As customer expectations continue to grow, customer complaints via social media and public forums are becoming more pronounced (e.g., Twitter, Yelp). With a two-way, integrated call center/vegetation management solution, real-time, customer-facing, tree-related status updates are available to call center representatives at the click of a button leading to higher customer satisfaction. Importantly, the costs associated with redundant processes are also greatly reduced and never-before-seen data is at the utilities’ fingertips (e.g., response time, resolution time, call disposition) strengthening future planning.