home Contact Centre, Customer Experience, Insights and Data Ergon Energy’s brand personality of “the friendly neighbour” depends on its omnichannel strategy

Ergon Energy’s brand personality of “the friendly neighbour” depends on its omnichannel strategy

A subsidiary of Energy Queensland, Ergon distributes electricity to 746,000 customers across most of Queensland. Ergon manages customers across regional and remote areas of the state, from Cape York in the North all the way down to Dalby in southwestern Queensland. Most of Ergon’s customers are households, but they also cover small-to-medium businesses, commercial enterprises and agricultural / farming customers.

Ergon has been on its customer experience journey for nearly a decade now. That journey has been a road of continual improvement, as Rachel Eade, Senior Customer Delivery Specialist at Ergon Energy Retail, reflects, “We commenced on our CX journey about ten years ago. Five years ago, we launched our first online self-service platform for customers to be able to do their own transactions. Since then, we’ve also been doing a lot of standardisation across our back-office teams and their digital enquiry management. We’re very focused on continuous improvement which can cover anything from processes or communications through to systems or anything that is customer facing.”

Rachel Eade, Senior Customer Delivery Specialist at Ergon Energy Retail

Ergon Energy tries to position its brand as being the ‘friendly neighbour, Eade says, “As an energy retailer, we really strive to create a brand personality of being the friendly neighbour. We are a regional company and are very focused on being seen as locals. But we also want to be seen as an informative and trusted advisor. It’s really important for us to be able to communicate with our customers on their level and the way that they choose”.

To support its brand personality, it’s critical that Ergon delivers an omnichannel experience for its customers.  It’s important that customers can obtain all the information and advice they want or need via their channel of choice. “We want customers to be able to complete their interaction on the channel they connected with us through, rather than being forced to switch channels to complete their enquiries or transactions.”

Ergon’s omnichannel approach aims to facilitate seamless experiences across the multiple touchpoints in the customer journey. “When you look at the different types of customers we have, you see a very broad and different range of needs. We do a lot of work to try and understand what channels our different customers like to contact us on and how can we make it easier for them”.

The need to be flexible and scalable

To manage their omnichannel interactions, Ergon Energy maintains two primary contact centre sites, one in Rockhampton and one in Townsville, with about 140 FTEs across the two locations. The two contact centres use the NICE CXone cloud contact centre platform supplied by Optus.

Adopting a cloud-based platform has allowed Ergon to integrate the two facilities while allowing for a sizeable remote workforce to be deployed during the COVID 19 pandemic. The solution also provides plenty of flexibility and scalability to allow Ergon to continuously improve its omnichannel strategy. “What was really important for us, when we were reviewing contact centre solutions, was the capability for omnichannel. We’re currently in the process of reviewing our customer portals and our inquiry management systems”.

The challenges to omnichannel

The biggest channel in delivering an omnichannel customer experience is consistency, ensuring the customer is told a consistent story regardless of communication channel. “A lot of effort went into standardising our content and messaging. If someone is interacting with a customer via an email, social media, SMS or a phone call, we want the same or consistent message and communication style so the customer not getting told different things depending on what they use.”

“We also want our staff to have visibility of all transactions. So, if a customer does jump channel and choose to pick the phone, the contact centre agent knows what’s going on and can pick up the interaction with the customer. It’s hard to build trust with customers and encourage to think of you as a friendly, if you can’t remember who they are and what you tell them is inconsistent or contradictory.”

The major hurdle Ergon had to overcome to achieve this consistency was integrating and aligning disparate systems where data was recorded or captured differently in each system and teams that had different processes. “It was about bringing all our different teams into alignment with how information was communicated and recorded. We also worked on our user experience or user interface across those different systems and channels. We didn’t achieve an exact match in all instances but we’ve been able to establish consistency in language, style as well as look and feel.”

Customer and employee feedback

Ergon Energy’s omnichannel strategy and commitment to continuous improvement is underpinned by having a well-developed Voice-of-Customer (VOC) program and employee feedback. “We survey customers post their interactions with us whether that’s via the phone or via our online portals or other digital channels. We then review and analyse that feedback and apply it to our continuous improvement program.”

“It’s not just customers that we listen to. The employee experience or the experience of our agents is just as important as is their feedback on how things can be improved. The agent experience can directly impact the customer experience. Acting on people’s feedback, regardless of how small the change, and letting them know can make a big difference.” Eade concludes, “We’ve really focused on customer experience over the last few years. We’re looking to make some big strides and really give our customers the options they need to connect and interact with us. We plan to make far greater use of the CXone solution in the years to come, to expand our capabilities and capacity to provide a continuously improving omnichannel experience for customers.”

Mark Atterby

Mark Atterby has 18 years media, publishing and content marketing experience.