Utilities—Omni-channel customer service solutions

Powering Satisfying customer experiences

Delivering quality customer service for the utilities commissions while controlling costs? Now that’s a powerful idea.

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Plug in to unified self‑service solutions

From century‑old infrastructure supporting 21st‑century energy demands to strict PUC regulations impacting collections to siloed communications solutions facing increasing customer expectations—it’s never simple in the utility industry.

Nuance is committed to delivering a unified self‑service solution that delivers high customer satisfaction ratings, even when you’re communicating about overdue bills or service disruptions.

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How PSEG Nets Higher Pay Rates in Collections with Self-Service IVR case study (pdf)

PSE&G case study(pdf)

Learn how a top utility company realised a substantial increase in payments by engaging delinquent customers through automated interactions.

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Outage communications

When will the lights come on?

Nothing disrupts daily life as thoroughly as when the power goes out. In today’s connected world, running on battery power in the dark—not to mention the cold—is a real source of concern. Within seconds, “How long?” is the question echoing across your service area.

Restoring power to your customer service

Every day, and in difficult times, Nuance self‑service solutions cost‑effectively ensure subscriber goodwill by deflecting calls and creating positive customer experiences.

When the lights go out, most customers will call their utility company to report the outage. It’s important to respond with an experience that’s fast and efficient, but which, for the sake of operational efficiency, doesn’t involve your call centre staff.

Introduce a conversational interface to your customer service IVR or website to engage subscribers in an effortless exchange that allows them to quickly give you the information you need. Complete your exchange with information about how you’ll communicate restoration updates.

A human‑like dialogue will shorten call‑handling times and improve your self‑service containment rates, allowing you to easily scale and keep your contact centre team focused on high‑value calls and complex issues.

Speed and transparency are important criteria when communicating during an outage. Your response plan should include the ability to quickly deploy notifications to your full subscriber base, or any affected portion, within minutes of a service disruption.

Our outage communications solution allows you to orchestrate multiple communication channels—voice, text, email or smartphone push—to reliably ensure that you reach your subscribers with the information they need.

Proven in Hurricane Irene and Super Storm Sandy, Message On Demand gives you the flexibility to respond to rapidly changing circumstances. Quickly compose and send messages to customers needing specific information about how to respond to impending events, restoration activities and more.

Outages can wreak havoc on customer satisfaction. Rapidly scaling to handle spikes in call volume and proactively providing restoration updates will help your organisation appear accessible and responsive in trying times.

Predictably communicating with your customers via multiple channels—including automated calls, emails and text messages—will minimise anxiety and reduce inbound call volume. And by providing a conversational experience on your website and in your IVR, subscribers can naturally find the answers and updates they need—reducing frustration on a normal day and minimising anxiety in times of stress.

Working in concert, a strategy of automated outreach and intuitive inbound response will increase your customer self‑service containment and reduce the impact on your call centre.

Customer engagement

Keeping the lights on isn’t enough

Today, consumers expect proactive customer service. Over 60% want their utility to inform them of planned outages, while others value appointment and missed payment reminders. The question is: Can utilities rise to the challenge and deliver on these new expectations for service?

Energising your customer engagement

Our intelligent customer self‑service solutions deliver the experience subscribers want and PUCs demand. From personalised outreach to intuitive systems, we help utilities create experiences that deliver customer satisfaction.

Need to increase enrolment rates in paperless billing, home efficiency or renewable energy programmes? Or keep customers informed about rebates and offers that will help them lower their energy use and save money? Nuance can help.

Automated outbound campaigns, personalised and orchestrated to leverage preferred communication channels, will improve the reach and efficiency of your outreach. Providing options for customers to take immediate action—links to customer self-service enrolment or specific agents—will increase your engagement. Then robust reporting delivers the insight required to optimise your efforts while providing confirmation that connections were made.

Every time you hit the road it’s expensive. Maximise your investment by minimising the time spent driving to missed appointments or waiting for late‑arriving customers.

A simple, proactive reminder works wonders, especially if you contact customers via their channel of choice—voice message, email or text message. Offering options to easily confirm or immediately reschedule—transferring to a conversational IVR or website—maximises the productivity of your field team and improves operational efficiency.

Daily life is unpredictable. Changes to schedules or circumstances can trigger calls to your contact centre that you may not be staffed to handle.

Leverage ad hoc messaging to proactively communicate last-minute information—changes to the tree-trimming schedule, planned outage information, downed wire notifications—to subsets of your subscriber base before they call with questions.

Employ Natural Language Understanding technology to make your website, IVR and mobile app more effective for resolving customer service issues, allowing your agents to focus on complex, high‑value issues.

Give your customers a choice: Wait in a queue with lengthy waiting times or schedule a callback when it’s most convenient. Either way, customers will appreciate your respect for their time.

Customer satisfaction is an increasingly important factor in PUC decision‑making—influencing everything from rate adjustments to initiative approvals.

Don’t leave your satisfaction rating to chance. Gather immediate feedback and identify potential issues by deploying automated surveys after service calls, outages and periodically throughout the year. Alerts will notify you of low satisfaction scores, allowing you to quickly address issues before they become complaints.

Demand response

Managing peak energy consumption with ease

Managing unpredictable peaks in energy demand is an ongoing challenge. Implementing demand response programmes to reward customers—both residential and commercial & industrial (C&I)—for rapidly and reliably curtailing their energy consumption has proven to be a successful strategy. Yet it’s not without administrative challenges.

Creating a consistently rewarding customer experience

Our demand response solution enables utilities to quickly contact customers to inform them of power supply strains, gauge the ability to reduce consumption and provide a complete audit trail to ensure regulatory compliance.

In contrast to manual calling efforts by staff members, automated outreach is able to reliably reach both C&I and residential customers in minutes.

Our demand response solution allows customers to dictate how, when and where they receive communications. Leveraging these known preferences, as well as prior behaviour, allows you to orchestrate voice, email and text messages to effectively reach and engage the selected audience. Options for message escalation—across channels, devices or contacts—further ensure message delivery.

When time is of the essence, cumbersome campaign administration is not an option.

To facilitate rapid outreach, our demand response solution features prebuilt message templates for curtailment events, courtesy warnings and standard system testing that can be scripted and stored for easy use. On the fly, customers can be targeted based on relevant attributes—like those who can shed 5‑10 megawatts or residents in a specific geography—to receive curtailment information.

Furthermore, administrators don’t need to be in the office to initiate a campaign. A variety of devices, including the web, IVR or smartphone app, can be used to remotely launch critical communications.

Reporting is a fundamental component of any demand response event, required by both internal and external audiences.

Our demand response solution streamlines the reporting requirement, offering both real‑time, web‑based campaign monitoring and over 30 standard reports in a variety of formats. Every call, email and text message is logged—creating an audit trail for each communication attempt and response and easily demonstrating regulatory compliance.


Meeting the collections challenge

The high cost of collecting payments weighs on the bottom line. Disconnections are expensive and open up regulatory scrutiny. By getting in touch with customers earlier in the process and offering options to self‑cure, you can improve pay rates and customer satisfaction while driving up revenue and driving down contact centre costs.

Powered by 150 million past due accounts

Every day, Nuance solutions are working on over $10 billion in accounts receivable for the nation’s top lenders, utilities and communication providers. Put the power of our collections solutions to work for you.

Increasing the number of past due customers you reach live, while simultaneously improving your interaction results, will collapse your treatment timeline.

Our flexible campaign controls allow you to intelligently sequence outreach across multiple channels so it never becomes routine to past due customers. Leveraging known preferences, as well as prior responses, helps you zero in on the right strategy for engaging individual customers in a live dialogue.

Delivering automated messages, expertly designed to be stage and risk appropriate, ensures that your interactions are always courteous and on message. Easy access to payment options allows you to prompt immediate action.

A recent survey reported that the fully burdened cost of putting a collector in contact with a customer averages $4.33 and is expected to increase.

By strategically deploying your contact centre staff, you will allow them to focus on late‑stage, high‑risk accounts and improve your self‑service containment rates—the number of past due accounts reached and cured through automation—all while reducing the overall cost to treat your portfolio.

Orchestrated cross‑channel campaigns that leverage customer preferences will increase your live answer rates, while a robust menu of payment options—pay now, pay later, talk to agent and message forward—make self-service IVR resolution simple and easy.

Utility companies have rules for communicating with consumers about their debt this can be complex—and the violations costly. Our solutions help you gain mobile consent, establish safe calling guardrails and ensure the right contact frequency.

Every call, email and text message is documented—making it easy to report on each communication attempt and providing an audit trail if service ultimately needs to be disconnected.

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