Utilities | CASE STUDY

400% increase in paperless billing script compliance

300% improvement in paperless billing conversion

$250k projected first-year cost-savings

Download PDF
hero image

Quality Assurance + Agent Training

Tethr helps major utility company automate QA through AI

A major U.S. utility company provides electricity to 1.4 million customers in the Southern United States. The organization is one of the nation's largest energy providers.

The Challenge:

Identify and address reasons for most acute customer service issues. Automate and augment QA. Increase the frequency by which agents offer products and services to customers

As a regulated utility, customer service is job one. Customers are at the center of the company’s initiatives; the organization is constantly looking for ways to better serve its constituents and meet their increasing needs. In the past two years, the organization has experienced a hiring freeze. Its customer service team is 15% short of ideal staffing rates, yet is held to the same high standards as it would be as a fully staffed team.

Call center leadership needed to utilize technology to listen to and analyze every phone conversation that would help extend the reach of their team, and provide the superb customer experience the company demands. They needed a technology platform that would allow its short-staffed team to increase efficiency and keep costs low while keeping customer satisfaction high.

Call center leadership called on Tethr to listen to and analyze customer service phone conversations on their behalf via Tethr’s Listening Engine, and systematically extract insights, context, and correlations from calls that would help their team become more successful in achieving tangible business objectives.

Tethr attached its secure cloud-based platform to the company’s telephony network to listen to every customer interaction, transcribing and indexing each call, and applying research-backed domain expertise as insights to automatically find correlations between events in current and past calls. Tethr automatically redacted sensitive payment and customer data from transcripts and call recordings to comply with PCI regulations.

Key features and benefits:

  • 4x increase in strategic execution in the contact center
  • 3x Improvement of product and services conversion
  • Key customer experience issues are automatically detected in calls and shared with management
  • Agent performance can be graded based on a more accurate representation of behavior
  • Sensitive customer data is redacted from transcripts and call recording

Turning on the power with Tethr

The company’s QA team listened to between five and eight calls per agent per month–less than 0.5% of the organization’s call volume–to measure policy adherence and agent performance. With this small sliver of information, the QA team did not have enough information to provide substantive feedback, identify macro-level issues, recommend process improvements or business insights, or ensure that policies were being followed.

The organization also struggled to properly train agents based on real-world events. Before Tethr, managers would spend hours searching for specific call occurrences to share. The process was laborious and often not targeted enough to make an impact.

“Because we hadn’t had the ability to truly listen to a statistically relevant amount of customer calls, and disposition codes provide limited visibility, we weren’t certain what issues our lean QA and training teams should focus on to improve customer service and efficiency. Without that baseline information, we had no ability to recommend changes to our processes,” said the manager of Customer Service Operations Support.

“When we started analyzing calls with Tethr, it was as if shackles had been removed from our entire team. Armed with quantitative data, we could take sustainable steps to improve the experience along the entire customer journey with the company, from the moment service is initiated and beyond.”

The company provides customers with a variety of ways to interact with the organization: self-service through web channels, online chat, in-person assistance at various retail locations, and phone lines. As in-person assistance and phone conversations represent the costliest channels, the team sought to leverage these channels for the most appropriate purposes and solve customer issues quickly and after the first interaction.

Their first step in optimizing these channels was to identify why customers enter them in the first place. Through its IVR system data, they knew the most common reasons customers called. But these systems were not able to recognize and appropriately categorize the less frequent reasons, which were typically the causes of longer calls, repeat calls, and increased customer effort.

“Our IVR system is set up to help us address the most straightforward reasons for customer contact. Our agents are trained to quickly handle these call reasons quickly and effectively. But, when a customer calls with an atypical request or need, our agents have a harder time providing service in the same efficient manner,” said the manager of Customer Service

“We turned to Tethr to help us first identify the other reasons customers call that get lost in the IVR cracks so that we could provide better coaching for our reps.”

Armed with a list of the more uncommon reasons for customer calls, the company can now provide more thorough and precise coaching, to ensure that reps are armed with the knowledge to help customers navigate through even the most challenging issues that cause the most customer friction. Managers are alerted when specified events occur in calls. They can easily drill down to a moment in a call, and play it back for team members to provide guidance.

“By using Tethr to analyze all our calls to understand the actual customer verbatim, we have been able to improve customer satisfaction, lower costs and improve service. We are energized by the positive business results we’ve experienced through Tethr. And now, more than ever before, the voice channel is recognized as critical to the success of the entire organization.” – Manager of Customer Service Operations Support & Online Services

Small changes. Big impact.

While there were many impact areas, the company shared a couple of specific examples of ways Tethr helped them reduce costs and improve the customer experience. To provide a more flexible and convenient option for customers, the utility instituted a program to increase the use of paperless billing in new accounts. Agents were trained to deliver the message about the billing option, yet the company was not experiencing the adoption rates it desired. The organization used Tethr to identify and analyze calls where agents should have discussed the paperless billing option and found, much to their surprise, that agents were discussing the option with callers on only 10% percent of the most suitable calls. With Tethr, the team can now pinpoint which agents successfully deliver the paperless billing information and provide direct training and coaching to those agents who do not.

This major U.S. utility company leveraged Tethr to improve customer experience when signing up for its online portal. The platform identified that customers were calling because they could not locate a code needed to initiate their online profile information that was included on the customer billing statement. With this knowledge in hand, the company has modified the customer billing statement layout to make the code more visible and updated the company website to better assist customers in locating the code.

Tracking what matters–next steps with Tethr

The organization’s QA team grades the performance of its agents using evaluation criteria common in most contact centers: appropriate greeting, professional communication, proper closing, used available resources, etc. But because the QA team only listened to less than 0.5% of calls, it could not provide a fair assessment of the team’s performance or offer training recommendations that could make an impact.

With Tethr, they now automatically detect whether traditional criteria are met and provide a more in-depth and more business-value-focused assessment of agent performance. The company replaces some of the repetitive and non-scaling QA processes with Tethr, freeing up management’s time to make improvements based on the insights Tethr has surfaced.

“As a public utility in a regulated market, our financial success is directly tied to customer satisfaction. Providing superb customer care is central to our mission. When customers call into our support lines, we have an opportunity to deliver on that mission,” said the manager of Customer Service.

“By using Tethr to analyze all our calls to understand the customer verbatim, we have been able to improve customer satisfaction, lower costs and improve service. We are energized by the positive business results we’ve experienced through Tethr. And now, more than ever before, the voice channel is recognized as critical to the success of the entire organization.”

Ready to see what Tethr can do for your team?

Recommended case studies