PSE&G, a regulated utility that delivers gas and electric service to more than 70 percent of New Jersey, is a great example of an energy company thinking innovatively in terms of customer experience. In short, the utility was looking to transform their customer care operations and improve the customer experience while also reducing the cost to serve, through technology innovation and process and via architecture simplification. Through a program launched in Spring 2009 called “iPower,” they’ve seen great results already, providing a terrific case study in utilizing technology to improve customer contact.
On the consumer end, iPower allows customers to manage their entire account online, and its first week live, nearly 50,000 customers registered for the self-service site. Internally, PSE&G had six very clear objectives when launching the initiative:
1. Achieve first quartile performance in customer service quality metrics
2. Availability of real-time information to customer service representatives
3. Respond rapidly to changing regulatory requirements
4. Enhanced customer service through process automation
5. Reduction of operations and maintenance costs
6. Increased system availability and reliability
Manoj Chouthai, the Vice President of IT and CIO of PSEG, spoke this week at the SAP Sapphire event in Orlando to discuss the progress organizationally that PSE&G has seen in two short years.
“All the challenges we had were in externally facing systems, so we had to transform the entire customer experience,” Chouthai noted. “Our biggest problem was integration, so we partnered with firms that we thought would bring value to the mix, namely Tata Consultancy. In my eyes, I have a simple belief: operational excellence is about financial strength, which in turn drives innovation.”
Hasit Kaji, the VP and Global Head of Energy at Tata Consultancy Services, then spoke about how in developing the new platform, there were two fundamental adoption levers:
1. How they completed the continuous improvements framework
2. What governance model was needed for operational excellence and innovation
“We wanted to make sure that we reduced the call traffic at the call center, so in situations where there was a wait, we enabled a system where the customer lived behind his or her number, and the agent would get a popup on their screen to call back,” said Kaji. “This really helped not only to improve customer service but also in reducing the load on agents, a huge step in the right direction.”
Chouthai admitted there were plenty of early growing pains in the process and that every customer didn’t love the new system, but also noted that it took PSE&G about 10 months to meet and exceed their expected metrics on iPower. Some fascinating stats about the success of the program included:
Yet again, adoption of new technologies takes time, and PSE&G showed some innovative thinking in the creation and implementation of their iPower project.
Any thoughts? How would your energy experience improve or be affected by a system like iPower?
Editor’s Note: PSE&G is a client of SAP. SAP is a sponsor of The Social Customer.