Contact Energy is one of New Zealand’s biggest energy and broadband providers, with more than 500,000 people connected to its services and almost 1000 employees across the country. 

With their tikanga guiding their people, Contact Energy prioritises the well-being of an entirely remote workforce, finding new and innovative ways to maintain and improve its reputation as a leading employer. 

During the global pandemic, the energy provider seized the opportunity to align its digital customer experience with its customer service team experience; empowering employees to deliver faster and more effective service for customers.

The challenge

Contact Energy saw the opportunity to provide exceptional customer service via digital solutions designed to take the pain out of complex queries, or address needs as simple as moving energy and broadband to a new house.

While Contact Energy enjoys positive reviews and high satisfaction with customers, the team at Contact Energy could see their Customer Service Representatives (CSRs) struggling with legacy systems that added complexity to relatively simple requests. As with many businesses, multiple tools that historically proved useful when digitizing manual tasks, had become cumbersome – with increased average handling times (AHTs), impacted levels of service and higher service costs. 

With so many complex systems to draw on for information, the end result was frustrating for the team, and time-consuming for the customer who is waiting for an answer whilst the CSR connects the dots across numerous legacy platforms. 

The solution

Contact Energy engaged the ClearPoint Design Team to research and design an intuitive and efficient Customer Service Dashboard.

In the discovery phase, the ClearPoint team interviewed the most experienced subject matter experts – the CSRs themselves. Together they reviewed their current tools, to see which aspects were critical and useful, and which aspects caused the most pain and inefficiency. They also looked out for interesting “workarounds” that CSRs had developed over time that could benefit everyone.  

By observing CSRs answering calls, the design team was able to understand the context of the conversations they had on a daily basis. It became clear that CSRs needed to have a rapid “bird’s eye view” of a customer’s relationship with Contact Energy in order to identify the source of, and then solve, the issue as quickly as possible – all while developing a rapport with the customer. 

For example, for the question, “Why is my bill higher than expected?” the CSR needs to know if it is because the last payment didn’t go through, if more energy/data was used than normal, or if they’re on the wrong plan – as well as whether they’ve already called and talked about this issue recently.

That meant reducing and prioritising the volume of information on screen down to just what is needed, when it is needed – rather than everything that is available. 

While customer interfaces need to be simplified and immediately understandable the first (and potentially only) time they see it, interfaces for CSRs need to be used repeatedly, over and over each day, for a wide range of different tasks and purposes. Efficiency, ergonomics and simplicity has to be balanced to provide information that empowers users to complete difficult or complex tasks easily. 

When it came time to design, ClearPoint used rapid cycles of design and user testing, moving from low fidelity sketches, through wireframes and interactive prototypes to identify the ideal blend of information and functionality to offer a great experience for CSRs, and empower them to provide an excellent experience for customers.

Critically, all of the research work was done remotely. “With all our people working completely remotely for almost a year now, we found new issues going through that process. The ClearPoint team was able to engage with our stakeholders that are placed all over New Zealand, using collaboration tools such as Miro,” says Steffen Troschke, Head of Digital Channels, Contact Energy.

The outcome 

During the project, the team at ClearPoint researched, designed and prototyped a dashboard that will provide an outstanding experience for both Contact Energy’s CSRs, and their customers. 

Contact Energy invested in their purpose and tikanga, enabling and empowering their colleagues to make timely decisions with the data at their fingertips.

This has created a more confident workforce, who take huge pride in the value they deliver for customers. The ultimate goal for the team is greater satisfaction, delivered by the reward of making fewer mistakes and enabling outcomes to be delivered faster. 

“As a business, we have already seen a significant average handle reduction of around 20-30% for the first journey we rolled out. That gives us confidence that we will reduce our service costs as we roll out more journeys,” says Steffen. 

“ClearPoint was flexible with the engagement and that gave us confidence that we work with a competent partner that is able to empathise with our business problems.” 

 

With a remote workforce spanning the length and breadth of the country, Contact Energy has created the customer service team of the future. 

Find out more about Experience Design and let us help you create experiences that people love. We work collaboratively with your team to plan a project approach tailored to your time, budget and context. By following best practice human centred design processes, we are able to rapidly produce actionable insights and designs for your business. Contact us to find out more.

 

Learn More: Experience Design