“Energy services are often complicated, especially as you need to manage several stakeholders. Zendesk makes it all the more convenient for consumers and agents alike.”
Customer Processes at enercity AG
Customer Service Agents
Help Centre Content Team
< 18 hours
First Reply Time
Number of tickets per day
Energy supplier enercity supplies more than one million people with electricity, gas, heating and water, for example, throughout Germany. As one of the three largest energy service providers in Germany, enercity is currently active in 350 municipalities. A few years ago, the decision was made to expand nationwide, which was accompanied by a fundamental transformation within the company. The company transformed itself from an energy supplier to an energy service provider. enercity not only wanted to take its customers along with it on this journey, but to put them at the centre of it.
To ensure this change is successful, a project team was formed at enercity at the end of 2016. The goal was to completely digitalise the entire sales process step by step and make the right tools available to agents. “Any customer contact – even if it is only to view tariff details on the website – is a service contact for us. And it has to be good. When we decided to expand across Germany, we knew that we would have to move away from the SAP Outlook structures we had developed”, recalls Jessica Sönnichsen, Head of Customer Processes at enercity. “We needed a flexible, intuitive platform that would bring everything together in a single tool.” At the beginning of 2018, enercity found the perfect platform: Zendesk.
Leaving inefficient processes behind
Before the introduction of Zendesk at enercity, all email queries flowed into an Outlook account where they were first sorted before being converted into a SAP workflow and processed in SAP. However, because agents couldn’t reply directly in SAP, they would have to go back to Outlook, find the email and compose the reply. Zendesk revolutionised this process for customer service and gradually all service teams were migrated from the old SAP Outlook world to the new one. For this purpose, individual customer groups were first defined and then migrated step by step. Sometimes, up to 200,000 new contracts with corresponding customers were absorbed into the Zendesk system at once. The process is still two-track in some parts, so Sönnichsen’s team has programmed a ticket gateway in Zendesk. Based on the email address and other customer data, the system decides whether the ticket should be processed in Zendesk or forwarded to the SAP system.
Along with the SAP system that is being phased out and Zendesk, enercity’s service still works with the agent tool. And for good reason: Enercity uses its agent tool to manage customer master data like contract details, addresses, meter numbers, meter readings and personal customer data. The agent tool has been deemed comprehensive and successful to such an extent that enercity spun it off as a product and company in 2020. Today, it is called Lynqtech. It is a cloud platform, into which Zendesk has been integrated, for sales-relevant processes at power supply companies.
Unlike Outlook and SAP, Zendesk and the Lynqtech platform can communicate with each other using a back end link. A self-developed back end link attaches the client profile to a new ticket. The agent can switch to the Lynqtech application with just one click in Zendesk and, for example, enter meter readings or approve invoices. By combining the systems, the agents have all the information they need for the best possible advice at their fingertips. But it also works the other way around: If a meter reading received by enercity is incorrect or someone moves house and forgets to provide the name of the previous tenant, a ticket is automatically generated in the agent tool. Thus, an agent can proactively reach out to the customer. “Everything that can cause a disruption in customer service leads to a ticket being generated automatically, including many processes in Lynqtech’s back end, for example in market communication or the billing process. We love our triggers because you can simply control so much with them,” says Sönnichsen.
Accessible on every channel
“Energy services are often complicated, especially as you need to manage several stakeholders, e.g. network operators and other electricity suppliers in the case of contract changes. Zendesk makes it all the more convenient for consumers and agents alike. We have now been able to introduce a completely straightforward channel with Chat, which both customers and agents love,” says Sönnichsen. You can always reach the chat at enercity and it is also the first point of contact via the website. If no agent is available to chat, the chat message is directly converted into a ticket for fast processing. Also, the enercity team has already successfully tested Zendesk’s Answer Bot in the chat to be able to solve simple queries automatically. Jessica Sönnichsen plans to introduce the bot as a regular colleague soon.
As well as email, contact form and chat, letters and faxes also flow directly into Zendesk. These are scanned, read and then converted into a ticket. This also works with telephone calls. The system automatically classifies all incoming requests into sub-topics to ensure the fastest and most efficient processing possible.
All information at a glance
Enercity’s self-service strategy is simple: customers can do everything themselves if they want. “We want to make it as easy as possible for our customers. Therefore, we try to provide all information and every service online. Our goal is to make it quick and easy for customers to access the information that’s important to them,” said Jessica Sönnichsen. “Thus, in order to know the exact customer needs, the reporting possibilities were also a decisive factor in our choice for Zendesk.”
Both the daily up to 2,000 tickets and the monthly over 2,000 search queries in Guide are regularly evaluated and analysed by the team in order to further improve the contents of the knowledge base, to adapt keywords to help topics and to even be able to proactively address recurring problems with the customer. Other units are also using the Reporting features. For example, the marketing team is using them to make more focussed plans for marketing materials and fine-tune performance marketing efforts. A four-person in-house content team deals with the regular updates to the topic articles and pages so that the latest issues are also recorded online in just a few days. Furthermore, revision and approval processes in Zendesk ensure that even older articles are regularly reviewed. This is particularly helpful because enercity’s agents also use the help centre to answer customer queries.
Both Zendesk Guide and the Chat widget have been integrated into all enercity websites and Zendesk’s Mobile SDK is integrated into the company’s mobile app. So, no matter the channel, enercity customers always have access to the help centre or Chat (whenever customers need someone else to help them with an issue). In addition, the entire service history can be tracked by the user at any time via their own login.
Efficient, organised and yet flexible
In the Outlook and SAP days, it would take several weeks for new colleagues to get up to speed with the tools. Today, they’re often up and running within just two days, thanks to Zendesk’s intuitive, self-explanatory user interface. “We all notice that the service has become much more efficient and organised,” says Sönnichsen. “Not only can we respond to customers much faster, but we can also go into much more detail because we’re chatting with them and suddenly, we have insights into key figures that were often very difficult to assess in the past.”
Numerous macros, triggers, ready-made text modules for recurring questions or content, which flow directly from the Help Centre into the ticket via the Knowledge Capture mobile app, facilitate the work of the entire customer service team. And the daily Reporting Overview focuses on the team rather than individual agents. Enercity handles around 20,500 tickets a day, so team managers are always looking at how long it’s taking to process each ticket and how long it takes to respond. For this, Enercity relies on the time tracking mobile app from Zendesk. However, the focus is never on individual colleagues, but always on the processing time of tickets on certain topics or issues, so that we are also in compliance with our internal regulations and the works council.
The customer management team around Jessica Sönnichsen evaluates how these processes can be accelerated and where further automations could help the customer service team on a daily basis. But also, for example, when a chat call could not be picked up and why. Enercity has thus been able to continuously reduce the processing time per ticket since the introduction of Zendesk. Today, it is far below the processing time prior to the launch. Customer experience is the top priority. And for enercity, that means above all: uncomplicated, smooth and fast contact, no matter when or where.
“When it comes to customer service, you can’t get anywhere without flexibility,” says Jessica Sönnichsen. “Ticket volumes keep moving upwards. Not only with us, but in the entire energy market. Thanks to Zendesk, we avoid media disruptions and can work much better digitally. Above all, we can also work continuously on making the process even more efficient for our customers and our customer service team and on providing support through automation. It’s super easy to work with our customer service team to develop new things and evolve the Zendesk platform. The link to the back end is now up and running, and we can develop so many new things based on that. SAP doesn’t compare.”