TEP meets rising customer expectations using research, VOC and cross-functional teams

Rebecca Harris, Data Analyst –

John Bord, Manager of Customer Experience at Tucson Electric Power (TEP) and member of Chartwell’s Utility Advisory Board, recently spoke about TEP’s journey to create a more satisfying customer experience in an era of new technology and increasing expectations.

Chartwell: Of the many challenges facing the industry today, which one concerns you the most?

John Bord: Two challenges are running parallel – one being rising customer expectations as they compare the utility industry’s service levels and experiences to other retail and premium brands’ service levels; and, second, the rapid deployment of new technology and innovative solutions.  Whether that’s improved solar efficiencies, evolving battery storage or artificial intelligence (AI) and automation, they all combine to increase efficiency.  But, internally, it’s difficult to secure both financial resources and technical resources to develop, test and implement to meet customer expectations.

Chartwell: What recent customer experience success are you most proud of at TEP?

Bord: Our focus is to reduce customer effort and increase customer satisfaction.  Through both quantitative and qualitative research, we have been able to identify and prioritize areas of customer dissatisfaction and make positive, relevant changes.  One huge success was with our recent bill redesign project.  The project involved multiple internal teams, creative approaches to developing solutions, thoroughly testing more than 1,000 residential and commercial bill-types and extensive customer research that demonstrated a measurable lift in customer satisfaction.  The project earned the Gold Award in Billing and Payment at Chartwell’s 2019 EMACS Conference, and has also been recognized in the industry through other awards and case studies.  The leadership at TEP showed great support and engagement throughout the project, and was excited to see the outcomes for the customer, employees and the company.

Chartwell: How do you communicate the importance of customer experience (CX) throughout the company?

Bord: It’s critical to lead by example and consistently demonstrate measurable success for the customer and the company.  CX is housed in our Customer and Business Solutions area, along with Customer Service and Billing and Payment.  We have been able to work on specific projects in our area that have increased customer satisfaction.  We also support the company in other primary and secondary research to ensure we understand and validate customer expectations – which continue to rise across all drivers of customer satisfaction.

Chartwell: What technology trend do you think will have the most impact on CX in the next few years?

Bord: A few trends will impact CX in the future.  Cybersecurity, expanding data analytics from multiple sources, cloud computing, robotics and the Internet of Things (IoT) should all have an impact at varying times.  Consumer adoption, regulatory challenges, IT resources, access to capital and other variables will impact how and when these trends are integrated and benefit both the customer and the company.  The growing access to data and expansion of products and services in the IoT area are really exciting and could provide more relevant solutions to customers.

Chartwell: Which upcoming initiative at TEP has you most excited?

Bord: I have a few, but the most dynamic is our cross-functional team that is working to improve our process for outage communications.  We are fortunate that we don’t have significant natural disasters; however, we do have a challenging storm season from July to September with high winds, lightning and heavy rain.  While we have an outage map and other notifications, we want to improve the timeliness and accuracy of the information we share with our customers.  This is a priority and has support from many different teams that are all involved with the outage process and communications before, during and after an outage.