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What does it take to be a customer experience leader?

Utilities worldwide are pinning their hopes on customer experience (CX) leaders — a newly minted class of executives and managers charged with revitalizing the customer experience for a more digital, distributed energy landscape.

Energy providers have always emphasized great service. But until recently, responsibility for customer interactions fell across lots of different roles and departments. No one had a holistic view of the experience utilities provide — or a mandate to change it.

CX professionals like Stacy Derstine are changing that. As Arizona Public Service’s CCO and VP of Customer Service, she’s marshalling teams across the company to elevate every part of the customer experience. How does APS measure success? Here’s how Stacy put it:

Across our industry, CX leaders are focused on making it easy and convenient for people to interact with their utilities. That means simple self-service options and consistent experiences across channels.

It also means a shift in internal priorities. Even though APS is a regulated monopoly, Stacy wants her organization to “treat every engagement with our customers as if they have a choice,” and get every area of the business bought into the idea that great service is essential to long-term success.

For many utilities, technology is the biggest barrier to a better customer experience. A recent Navigant report found that just 15 percent of North American utility executives are confident in a range of customer engagement capabilities. There’s wide agreement that advanced CSR tools, digital transactions, and customer analytics are essential, but aging systems are making them hard to deliver.

That’s why an increasing number of utilities are moving their tech stacks into the cloud, which offers faster implementation and innovation. Three in four executives say they now prefer buying IT solutions to building them in house.

“We have a number of initiatives underway,” Stacy notes. “We are modernizing our IVR. We are launching an app. We are enhancing our website.”

In the short term, CX leaders are expecting bumps in key metrics, like digital interactions, self-service, and satisfaction. They’re also watching for a gradual transition toward utilities as a service platform — one that helps customers adopt tomorrow’s energy technologies.

Learn more about Oracle Utilities work in customer service here.

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