I recently sat down Don Hodson, head of customer experience (CX) at Georgia Power (GPC), to discuss how GPC is maximizing the effectiveness of its CX program. For energy brands that are working hard to create a positive, seamless experience for its customers, Don’s insight might just spark an idea that can be applied to your company’s strategy. Enjoy!
Can you explain GPC’s customer experience goals and the specific issues you’re trying to solve with research insight?
Don: Georgia Power has a strong reputation with our customers already so there is little value focusing on improving a customer sat score from 8.5 to 8.6. Rather, we look at all the interactions customers have with GPC—the channels they use, the issues they have—to identify where there are barriers to resolution or where we force them to make extra effort. Then we focus on how to mitigate those issues to reduce customer effort. Not only does this improve customer sat but, in many cases, it also identifies opportunities to decrease operational costs.
How does that CX insight feed into GPC’s larger business goals?
Don: The insights the CX team gleans from our analysis of customer survey and behavioral data directly impacts changes we make in the Call Center, including how we answer and prioritize calls, how we handle payment arrangements (31% of our Call Center calls), how and to whom we market our products/services and how we personalize the message and customize it to their channel preference. We also develop “Action Reports” that leverage and integrate all data sources to help our clients identify areas of strength and weakness for the brand.
GPC is using syndicated data as just one part of its customer experience research program. How do the parts fit together?
Don: The Cogent Reports syndicated data from Market Strategies provides the valuable “how high is up” perspective. We have proprietary surveys that tell us how satisfied customers are with us (or not) and what their pain points are, but is an 8.3 rating good or bad? That’s where syndicated data help because we can compare ourselves against our peers. We look at the trends on key metrics as well as where we are relative to Best in Class (BIC). If we are improving but at a slower rate than other utilities, then we are losing ground. If we are very close to BIC, we focus our attentions elsewhere. If we are far away from BIC, we try to understand what is driving the disparity and seek initiatives that can help us close the gap on important drivers. Also the syndicated data are extremely valuable in providing customer opinions on imagery, product awareness/interest, etc., and Sales and Marketing use that insight extensively in their strategies and tactics.
Market Strategies provides modeled scores for overall Engaged Customer Relationship (ECR), Brand Trust, Operational Satisfaction and Product Experience. How do you use these scores?
Don: We have only recently begun to use the ECR drivers because we did not want to confuse our communications with key drivers from other studies. We are starting to integrate these now in our presentations so we focus on the areas of greatest impact. We don’t go into detail on the specific model or “scores” but use the scores to highlight the most impactful issues.
What advice would you share with other utilities about where to start putting syndicated data into action?
Don: We serve many different client groups within GPC and obviously each has its own area of interest. We have to distill the Cogent Reports data to show the relevant metrics to each client group so each is a “customized presentation.” I would caution new users not to overwhelm their clients with too much data. Our approach seems to be working well.
How has syndicated data and insights impacted your business?
Don: It is difficult to isolate the contribution of any single data source to the business. However, the CX team is using the Cogent Reports syndicated data more and more as we gain “traction” with our client groups. We have more time with them, and we have a better understanding of their goals and challenges. We also have a better understanding of the data and how to leverage it to best address the issues and opportunities facing GPC from the perspective of each client group’s “sphere of influence.” The data’s impact on the decisions made by our client groups is definitely growing. I was in a presentation by our marketing/advertising team last week, and they were referencing the syndicated data—I was so proud and glad that they also see the benefit and insights.