16 July 2013 – Eskom provides customer service to its small medium enterprise (SME) customer base and residential consumers in South Africa through seven virtualised regional centre contact centres based around the country. The infrastructure is also used to provide customer care services to other target groups within Eskom.
“As a critical utility service provider for 4.9 million customers, our customers use our contact centres for fault reporting, queries as well as billing services. It is the primary channel for communication and is supplemented by our walk-in centres. The contact centre also services our internal staff requirements for human resources, information technology, procurement and finance,” Bruce Coetzee, senior consultant: customer services at Eskom, says.
He says Eskom’s call volumes are approximately 6.5 million a year. The contact centres support seven regional languages and many service categories.
“As our customer base continued to grow effective customer relationship management with dated technology resources became a challenge. We were looking for a solution that integrates, measures and reports on all our communications channels, including new channels such as social media and instant messaging. Furthermore, we needed the ability to scale for future growth requirements. Risk was also a growing concern for us. Contractually, we needed to ensure that we are aligned with the latest voice recording technologies and data recovery practices,” Coetzee says.
Coetzee adds that Eskom did not want to move away from the existing Avaya technology platform and after approaching several solution providers, Jasco Enterprise proved to be the strongest contender with the right mix of contact centre integration skills and the capacity to deliver.
According to Paul Fick, divisional MD at Jasco Enterprise, Eskom has been very forward thinking in terms of using technology to provide service to its customers. “The combination of Avaya and the new work force optimisation platform constitutes a complete solution with integrated workforce management, voice transaction management and speech analytics as well as a realistic upgrade path going forward.”
All call logging, customer information management and reporting is now centralised and contact centre managers have access to real time customer interaction information. This allows them to respond immediately and do more effective resource planning to efficiently deal with customer queries when there are service interruptions.
“Over and above the superior functionality that Avaya provides, we realise that today most consumers use their mobile phones to call the contact centre. We introduced a call on hold functionality, which gives the customer the choice for the contact centre to dial the customer back without losing their position in the queue,” Fick says.
Another addition to Eskom’s drive for improved service delivery is its call survey option. Customers have the choice to rate the service they receive from Eskom in real-time, allowing contact centre managers to assess how well agents are servicing customers.
“This has proved particularly useful when tailoring specific services and forms part of Eskom’s customer centricity drive. It allows the utility to respond a lot quicker, manage agents better, and gives it the ability to react a lot faster in a crisis situation. On the flip side, this also gives Eskom the opportunity to reward agents that are at the coalface of the organisation,” he says.
Fick says another key focus for Eskom was the effective management of proactive outbound contact, such as SMS notification services, which informs customers when there are service interruptions, as well as inbound communications, linking customer queries directly to their profile. The outbound SMS service was previously done outside of the contact centre, but is now brought into the contact centre and integrated in support of the vision of having a single view of customers.