Improve Customer Experience and Reduce Live Agent Costs at the Same Time

What you know about a customer at the moment they call into your utility’s call center can make a big difference to your operational efficiency and their customer experience. However, customers often call in from a phone number that is different than the one in their account records—sometimes, for example, from a mobile phone when their landline is the one associated with the account. Forcing these callers to re-identify themselves wastes time and money and degrades the customer experience.

According to Neustar’s industry benchmarking, 20% of utilities’ phone data is incorrect, incomplete, our outdated. When affected customers call in, they aren’t identified by the phone number they’re using. If customers become frustrated by identifying themselves in an interactive voice response (IVR) environment, they’re likely to “pound out” to speak with live agents. That interaction will begin with 30 to 60 seconds of caller identification. The cumulative price of callers’ frustration with the IVR experience rises quickly because, on average, one agent-minute costs one dollar. This approach wastes resources and does nothing to meet customers’ rising expectations for faster service.

Two trends increase the chances that customers will not call in with the phone number listed in their customer records. First, 75 million consumers change their phone carriers, and 45 million consumers change their phone numbers every year in the U.S. Few provide notice of these changes to service providers. Second, the average U.S. home has an estimated 3.4 phone lines. When creating an account with a utility, a customer may have provided a landline number that now is largely unused, rather than the mobile phone that she is more likely to call from. These trends jeopardize operational efficiency and customer experience for utility companies that fail to take mitigating action.

Utilities need all customer data available at the beginning of the call, even when the customer calls from a number that differs from what is on record. By identifying unknown callers and confirming their identities instantly, utilities can contain more calls in the IVR for greater operational efficiency, while reserving agents for higher-value, more complex matters. Customer experience improves because service is more efficient and effective.

Identifying callers in this way decreases average handle times by 30 to 60 seconds per call. Agents get to the service portion of each call faster. Callers’ needs are addressed faster. IVR containment increases on average by 10 percent. Cost savings average $5.50 per IVR-contained call and 45¢ to 90¢ savings per agent-handled call.

Learn more about how forward-thinking utility companies are using identification to improve the customer experience during our session at EMACS Virtual, “Improve Customer Experience and Reduce Live Agent Costs at the Same Time,” on Wednesday, Oct. 7, at 1:40 p.m. ET.