Challenge


Contact Energy wanted to up its engagement and improve customer and employee experience – and business efficiencies.

Solution


In partnership with Spark, Contact Energy has implemented Spark Cloud Contact Centre’s asynchronous messaging powered by Genesys Cloud CX as a contact channel both customers and CSRs love.

Result


Contact Energy has logged efficiency gains of 36% and 60% faster resolution times, with strong NPS scores and employee satisfaction soaring.

Contact Energy powers up customer and employee experience

In 2020, Contact Energy asked itself a big customer service question: Is email the best way to service customers?

One of New Zealand’s largest companies, with more than 500,000 energy and broadband connections and 900+ employees, Contact Energy knew the answer.

The company has a strong digital focus and has long been working to enable customers’ digital journeys and provide them with the ability self-serve and resolve problems without the need for email or phone calls. But they were still receiving more than 25,000 customer emails a month and about 30 percent of all calls to their contact centre were from customers who had started their journey in digital channels. It was expensive and NPS scores for email interactions were just 3% – well below the 51% for calls.

With low NPS, long resolution times, poor reporting options and surveys showing customers weren’t comfortable using self-service options for what seemed to be more complex requests or issues, Contact Energy wanted better for their customers, their CSR team and the overall business.

“We wanted a channel that both customers and our customer service representatives (CSRs) could really love,” says Lana Antonova, Contact Energy’s Digital Product Owner.

By offering a better digital engagement service to deal with more complex customer issues, Contact Energy knew they could resolve issues faster, and improve both the customer and employee experience, all while increasing business efficiencies.

While many companies were going down the route of live chat, Contact Energy had reservations.

“Live chat was something we had explored but it had limitations,” Antonova says.

While live chat could offer some of the efficiencies we were seeking, including faster response times, shorter average handling time, the ability for CSRs to have multiple chats at once and proven abilities to reduce calls, it also required customers to stay active on the site to talk to CSRs.

“In our trial 16% of chats were missed due to the customer leaving the site before getting a response,” Antonova says.

“Through our market research we found asynchronous messaging through Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp could lead to higher benefit,” she says.

Asynchronous messaging allows customers to use channels they’re already comfortable with, such as Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp – including from mobile – to interact with Contact Energy and enables the sharing of rich content. Customers can send a private message and go about their day, without having to wait for an agent, or worry about getting disconnected or losing chat history.

Contact Energy, in partnership with Spark, had already deployed Cloud Contact Centre for voice, and Genesys had just released an asynchronous messaging option.

“It came at the right time for us,” notes Antonova.

With Spark’s contact centre expertise, and the established relationship, the two companies quickly deployed Asynchronous Messaging.

Happy customer, happy employee

Within eight months Contact Energy saw a 36% efficiency gain thanks to CSRs being able to handle multiple interactions at once, while still providing consistent one-to-one service.

New interactions are added to their queue as soon as they close one off, minimising down time and one CSR can complete an average of 76 asynchronous interactions a day, compared to just 56 emails a day.

That efficiency isn’t just good for the business, it’s good for the customer, who is now seeing 60% faster resolution times.

Antonova says troubleshooting issues with customers in real-time has become easier and faster. CSRs can send links to online information, and customers can send photos of their meter for a CSR to review.

There’s also more time for CSRs to consider their replies, Antonova says, enabling them to think about the best solution while still assisting a customer in real time.

And while email communications can drag on, with delays in customer replies to CSRs ’requests for further information, customers are quick to respond to a Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp notification.

They’re also able to move between voice and messaging, continuing conversations where they left off, even when it’s been inactive for some time.

Importantly, customer satisfaction is also high: NPS scores hit 42% within eight months, with Contact Energy handling around 12,000 asynchronous messaging interactions per month, equating to around 6,000 customers.

As for those emails, they’ve dropped 18% year-on-year, enabling Contact Energy to redeploy three of the 30 FTEs previously focused on email communications to other areas within the business requiring support.

Calls to the call centre are also down, despite business growth, and the huge spikes often seen when there is a big announcement have levelled out as customers turn to messaging instead.

Employee wins

“Not only do customers really like engaging with us through asynchronous messaging, but the CSRs can’t wait to get on to it,” says Antonova.

“A lot of our team are in their early 20s, so chat is super-native to them, and they love the more casual nature of it and that they can show some personality and a more human, fun, side to Contact Energy.”

When staff moved to work from home in the wake of Covid, another benefit came to the fore, with typing a reply a more convenient option than talking on the phone for many staff who shared their homes with others also working from home.

Longer term, Antonova expects Contact Energy to see benefits extend to lower staff turnover through giving staff a more enjoyable – modern – experience.

Ultimately, Contact Energy plans to use asynchronous messaging for outbound emails as well, creating more personalized marketing for its customers, on the channel they want to engage on.