Utilities | CASE STUDY

Reduced compliance risk through sales-related call analysis

Improved agent coaching to mitigate future compliance risk

Uncovered insights into customer experience with enrollment

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Spark Energy manages compliance risk and streamlines the sales experience with Tethr

Spark Energy is a natural gas and electric services company based in Houston, Texas. They have served more than 2 million retail customers across 21 states. The company cites its energy management expertise, community support, and customer service as its three biggest differentiators.

The Challenge:

Deliver an excellent customer experience and ensure sales agents meet compliance standards.

A proactive approach to compliance

Spark Energy’s Sales Quality team is responsible for tracking all sales transactions, both over the phone and door-to-door, and making sure agents stay in compliance. If an agent makes an error that puts them out of compliance, such as failing to disclose a fee to customers, it puts Spark Energy at risk of losing a sale or getting a complaint through the Public Utility Commission. In some cases, a compliance issue can even put Spark Energy at risk of legal action. As a result, the Sales Quality team needs to find and resolve compliance risks quickly. They also coach sales agents to avoid future risks.

Before 2019, the Sales Quality team primarily relied on a third-party vendor to review calls and provide feedback on compliance issues and coaching opportunities. However, the team discovered that Spark Energy’s Customer Care department was using the conversation intelligence platform Tethr to transcribe customer calls and surface useful insights. Once the Sales Quality team learned more about Tethr, they realized they could directly access sales call insights and feedback thanks to the platform’s intuitive interface and functionality. They decided to implement Tethr for the Sales department, giving them a direct view of their agents’ performance and allowing them to proactively address risk.

Tethr came with hundreds of pre-made category tags that were automatically added to sales call transcripts when certain phrases were used. The Sales Quality team also worked with Tethr’s Speech Analytics team to create custom categories and reports to meet their needs. Now, Spark Energy has reports in Tethr that flag when specific events or sales agent behaviors occur during a call, enabling them to promptly address issues and improve their sales processes.

Managing risk and improving the buyer experience

Today, Spark Energy analyzes both their Sales and Customer Care calls with Tethr. “Tethr gives us the ability to get more insights, not just about how sales agents are doing, but what our customers are calling about,” says Juan Trevino, Sales Quality Manager.

"Tethr gives us the ability to get more insights, not just about how sales agents are doing, but what our customers are calling about."

Spark Energy analyzes calls to Customer Care to identify complaints and escalation threats. This helps them follow up with customers appropriately and train agents to prevent issues. Since Spark Energy works with multiple third-party vendors for door-to-door sales, Tethr also helps them monitor feedback about each vendor so the Sales Quality team can prioritize on-site visits and coaching. 

By analyzing sales-related calls, Spark Energy catches compliance issues as they occur, helping them prevent costly outcomes. Trevino shared the example of fee disclosures to illustrate this. “Imagine you have a product with a monthly service fee. If an agent doesn’t mention that fee during the verification process, that call becomes non-compliant, and the sale isn’t valid. If the agent runs 300 verification calls in the same day for that product, that’s 300 sales that you may potentially have to invalidate.” With Tethr, Spark Energy can catch and remedy this type of error before it compounds.

Spark Energy has found additional ways to improve the buyer experience with Tethr. They use Tethr to analyze post-sale calls in which an agent contacts a new customer and asks about their enrollment experience. Tethr helps the energy supplier turn this unstructured customer feedback into insights they can use to improve the enrollment process.

Spark Energy also shares customer feedback from Tethr with their Marketing team. For example, after Marketing ran a direct mail campaign, the Sales Quality team shared insights from the people who called and enrolled based on that campaign. “Tethr is helpful because we can pull data from calls and share it, whether it’s related to Customer Care or a specific campaign from Marketing or Sales,” says Trevino.     

Next steps

The Sales Quality team is currently working with Tethr to implement a custom QA scorecard in the platform. This will allow them to automatically complete the scorecard for every call Tethr ingests. By automating the repetitive parts of the QA process across all calls, the team anticipates that they will be able to identify new areas for sales performance improvement and enable their QA managers to focus on the more complex, subjective parts of quality assurance.

One of the team’s next goals with Tethr is to integrate their third-party verification calls and set up categories to flag when an agent makes an error or leaves out important information. They are also working with their Tethr team to ingest and transcribe Spanish-language calls. This will give them greater visibility into all their sales-related calls, further reduce their compliance risk, and contribute to a positive enrollment experience for customers.

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