Citizens Energy Group Powers Customer Feedback with Verint

Verint Team April 27, 2021

My name is Curtis Popp, I’m Vice President of Customer Operations at Citizens Energy Group. Citizens Energy Group is a unique entity. As far as utilities go, we’re the only public charitable trust utility in the known universe. We’ve been around 132 years to basically provide light, heat, power, water utility services to the citizens of Marion County. We do a lot of surveys with Verint. We measure overall customer satisfaction, random surveys, but we also look at our different channels of communication with our customers, so we look at our website, we survey there, we survey our contact center, three context of our field service survey, our communications survey. I might even be missing one or two others, but multi-channel measurement of customer sat and all the different possible ways.

We’ve been working with Verint now for I believe, about four years as our research partner. They replaced the long-standing research partner that we had that had been around for at least 20, maybe 25 years. I think prior, we had a research partner that was just going out and doing some phone surveys and giving us data, and there wasn’t– We didn’t really get a look behind the scenes. What I like with Verint is everybody I talked to at Verint actually knows the model, and they’re able to answer questions, and I can’t trick them, and we can have tough questions and tough conversations and we can challenge them, and they let us look into, “Well, here’s the math, here’s the science, here’s the logic.” For a numbers guy like me, that’s heartwarming, and they understood intuitively, “Here are the key elements. Here’s what’s going to drive customer sat for a utility company. Here’s what’s going to be meaningful. Here are the questions.” They showed us the question and event. We brainstorm together.

It’s a true partnership. They’re not a polling company, they’re a business analytics firm, and that’s very meaningful to us. We’ve gained some insights that we probably wouldn’t have known about. For example, Citizen will talk about the three big customer service programs, the enrollment program programs where we want to drive enrollment up with automatic big deductions, that’s electronic billing, and its budget enrollment, which is levelized payment. If we get a customer to enroll in any one of those three, we’re talking about a three or four-point increase in customer satisfaction from that customer. If we can get a customer to enroll in all three, it’s eight to nine points improvement on our customer SAT score, that’s huge.

Being able to get really granular and take a look at things like where are complaints coming? What the nature of complaints if we had to categorize them? Sewer rates are far and away our number one complaint, but number two, right behind are water quality, so we’re even able to take the water quality is definitely, we’ve dug deeper and sub-categorize all of the water quality complaints, and now we’ve started to take that and socialize that with our folks in water production. We’re able to not only get the information, but we’re able to dig deep, and then we use it to drive initiatives.

When we talked with our water production folks, they’re looking at the survey data that they’re getting, and they are actually now kicking off a whole probably multi-year strategic initiative around perceptions and around water quality and things that they’re going to do. There’s a whole good, better, best set of initiatives that they’ve got embedded starting this next year.

I think initially when we approach the water production folks and started sharing with them some of this data, the natural instinct was to get a little bit defensive about it, but then I think they looked at it and said this is really helpful data, but more importantly, what we’re trying to do with that is take that data and push it to the little far reaches of the organization and make people feel a personal connection between the Verint data and the impact on customer sat.

Ultimately, we define success by improved customer sat scores. We take this data and if we can turn that into initiatives, particularly strategic initiatives, but to the extent that I can get people talking about this and excitement within citizens around customer sat in general as a value, it’s something that’s part of your soul at the company. That’s the real measure of success.