customer engagement

This week, US utility Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative (SMECO) has partnered with smart grid solutions provider Oracle to automate its communication with customers.In a company statement, the utility cooperative providing electricity to more than 160,000 customers said it integrated Oracles new tech with its existing customer information system.

The combined solution of the Oracle Utilities Customer Self Service and the Oracle Utilities Customer Care and Billing solution is said will allow SMECO customers to view their bills, make payments, access grid information, report outages and participate in various programmes online, on a single website.

The decision to integrate the solutions falls under the utility’s efforts to reduce pressure on its call center and allow its staff to focus on more complex issues.

SMECO says majority of the calls which the center received were on payments and payments arrangements hence rose the need to automate the processes.

In addition to the customer self-service capability brought into existence by the new solution, the power company said it is planning to expand the use of the technology on its mobile app.

[quote] By so doing, consumers will be able to access the grid’s outage maps as well manage their accounts on their mobile devices. [ECOVA unveils new customer engagement tech for utilities]

The solution will also be used to leverage SMECO’s energy portal which will allow consumers to participate in energy efficiency programmes once the utility completes rollout of its AMI project in 2017.

Customer engagement tech in the US

Recently, global customer information systems company Professional Computer Systems (PCS) also partnered with utility text messaging business solutions provider TextPower.

Under the deal, the two agreed to integrate their solutions.

PCS's customer empowerment solution, Utilit-e solution, will be integrated with TextPower’s text messaging platform to allow PCS utility clients to send customer-service related notifications via text messages.

Commenting on the development, Mark Nielsen, TextPower's executive chairman, said the integration will automate utility customer alerts and billing notices which will save both the utility and their customers time and money."

According to Nielsen, 80% of utility consumers in the US prefer text messages to email and phone. [US communications firm launch pilot on digital customer experience]

The solution will allow staff to sign up consumers to receive sms notifications in events including bill generation, bill payments confirmations, bill due dates reminders and load shedding alerts.