Daily Archives: April 4, 2017

Jackie Bavaro Natural Gas Utilities Explore the Latest Trend in Utility Customer Engagement: Journey Mapping

The April issue of American Gas Magazine titled, “That Aha Moment!” explores how Ameren Illinois, Southern Co., and Vectren began facilitating customer journey mapping, the latest trend in utility customer engagement. The three utilities discovered how journey mapping can help illuminate key touch points in the customer experience, improve engagement and lead to a successful long-term relationship with consumers.

At Ameren, nearly 35 staff members participated in the customer journey mapping sessions, which took place for four days over a two-week period. The group used E Source’s JourneyHub, a web-based tool that allows utilities to map customer touch points, along with flowchart maker and diagramming software Visio, to integrate the customer experience with the operational flow.

Employees examined the process—from both a customer-facing and operations Captureperspective. By using Journey Mapping the staff members in the group shifted their way of thinking about when they should provide information about outages. As a result, Ameren saw a 30 percent reduction in calls during its most recent outage by providing more effective messaging to customers.

While Ameren’s work was geared toward electricity restoration, gas companies can also take advantage of journey mapping for customer’s needs including gas emergencies/leaks, outages, starting or transferring service, bill payment, disconnections for nonpayment, nonemergency service inquiries, meter exchanges or participation in energy efficiency programs.

In 2015, Southern Co. Gas also engaged E Source to help revamp its Customer Experience strategy. The company interviewed more than 60 leaders and employees with the goal to improve overall customer engagement.  Journey mapping became a key component of that effort, revealing customers’ emotions—both good and bad—when doing business with the company. It allowed Southern Co., to focus not only on internal operations but on the customer experience aspect as well.

Similarly, in 2015, Vectren’s focus on journey mapping became a part of its continuous improvement and value stream analysis to better understand its process flows. Vectren’s greatest revelation came when the utility noted that not only do customers have different touch points, but they also have different “personas.” Vectren identified six personas including college students, new residents and retirees on fixed income, and looked at touch points for each group. Vectren is not far enough along to have garnered metrics about how changes are working, but the company  believes the right processes are in place to achieve better results when it comes to successful long-term relationships with customers.

The process of journey mapping brings together employees from the call center, the field, IT and the back office to reveal crucial information and learn from one another. That process can be extremely helpful in improving customer touch points—every point of contact with the utility from start to finish—and the increasing customer engagement. For more information, you can read the entire article here.

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