Oct 09, 2019

Connecting with customers in the digital age


From outage texting and customized bill reminders to the availability of near-real-time energy usage and live chats, PPL companies have introduced tools that create a personalized experience for customers – giving credence to the old adage, “knowledge is power,” and building trust along the way.

In addition to phone, online, email and social media, Live Chat – offered to customers of PPL Electric, Louisville Gas & Electric and Kentucky Utilities – gives customers another choice for making general inquiries and asking specific account questions.

“We’ve made a concerted effort over the years to improve interactions with our customers by proactively providing more information on what matters to them and options to contact us using the channel of their choice,” said Debbie Leist, director, Customer Services and Marketing for LG&E and KU.

“We know that our customers have different preferences in how they do business with us – from established traditional ways to newer, automated ones – and we’ve consciously tailored our approach to create a toolbox of offerings that evolves with customers’ expectations.”

WPD Customer Service
WPD Contact Centre Social Media Advisor Andi Hughes connects with customers on various platforms.

In Pennsylvania, the implementation of Live Chat and two-way texting, coupled with the company’s social media presence, have made a significant impact on customer engagement. Customers can use two-way texting to check the status of outages, report an outage, check account balances or make a payment.

Since PPL Electric Utilities rolled out two-way texting in June 2018, customer use of the new tool has surpassed 50,000 transactions.

In the United Kingdom, Western Power Distribution staff members have been actively engaging with customers in real time since the launch of @wpduk on Twitter in 2013. WPD’s Twitter feed is monitored 24/7 by a dedicated social media team that responds to inquiries and proactively uses up-to-the-minute power cut information to issue updates on outages affecting more than 500 customers. In the first six months of 2019, WPD received more than 16,988 tweets.

Webchat is equally vital to customer engagement. Five years from its introduction, the most common topic on the 24-hour platform remains power cuts. However, staff members handle calls on everything from new connections and apprenticeships to supplier details and service alterations.

Customers can also get in touch using WPD’s text messaging service, as well as access apps and services tailored to hearing-impaired and visually impaired customers.

In addition to using universal social media platforms, WPD has initiated its own engagement tools. These include the interactive Power Cut Reporter App, which encourages customers to report power outages and seek assistance.

The launch of the Carbon Tracer App in 2018 reflects a growing interest among consumers in how their energy is generated. App users who view the composition and carbon intensity of their electricity supply may choose to adjust their behavior, for instance, by using less electricity at peak times.

But it doesn’t end there. WPD will join the WhatsApp messaging community later this year, giving customers yet another platform for round-the-clock engagement to enable WPD to deliver the best service possible.