Energy done cleverly – A customer service revolution

From energy supplier to energy service provider: customers are the focus at enercity AG, and they can find support anywhere, anytime.

enercity AG

“We’ve all noticed just how much quicker everything is now. 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.”

Jessica Sönnichsen

Customer Processes at enercity AG

Several weeks

Onboarding new agents before Zendesk

2 days

Onboarding new agents with Zendesk

100

Number of agents

≈ 3,000

Monthly ticket volume

Energy provider enercity supplies more than 700,000 people with electricity, gas, district heating and water in Germany’s Hanover region. The company expanded nationwide in 2018 to provide green energy and carbon-neutral natural gas to consumers outside the Hanover region – first in Berlin and then later across the whole country.

The decision brought with it a change of thinking in the company – from energy supplier to energy service provider. But enercity didn’t want to just take customers on this journey, but put them at the centre of their business.

The company created a project team in late 2016 and tasked it with laying the foundations for this major change. The goal was to completely digitalise the sales department and make the right tools available to agents. “Every customer contact – even if they’re just looking at the rates on our site – 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

Previously 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 for customer service has completely revolutionised this process – in the Berlin region at first but then later across all of Germany. What’s more, the service teams for customers in Hanover are now slowly migrating over to the new environment, too.

Enercity’s teams still work with two systems though: Zendesk and the so-called agent tool. And for good reason. Enercity uses its agent tool to manage customer data like contract details, addresses, meter numbers, meter readings and personal customer data. Unlike Outlook and SAP, Zendesk and the agent tool communicate with each other. For example, if a customer has a question about their contract, Zendesk works with the agent tool to find the relevant information using the customer’s email address or contract number. This ensures the agent has all the details they need to help and advise the customer in the best possible way. 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 so that an agent can let the customer know.

“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. That’s why it’s so nice that customer service is now easier and simpler for both consumers and agents and we’ve also been able to introduce a brilliantly straightforward channel with Chat that both customers and agents just love”, Sönnichsen says.

Give customers all the information

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. That’s why we try to have all the information and every service they might need or want available online. Our goal is to make it quick and easy for customers to access the information that’s important to them”, said Jessica Sönnichsen. “Zendesk’s Reporting features were therefore a key factor when deciding which platform to go for.” The team regularly evaluates and analyses inbound email tickets and more than 2,000 monthly search queries in Guide to improve the content in the knowledge base, adjust keywords on help topics and even address recurring customer problems pre-emptively. 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.

“We want to make it as easy as possible for our customers. That’s why we try to have all the information and every service they might need or want available online. Our goal is to make it quick and easy for customers to access the information that’s important to them.”

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 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).

Startup efficiency

In the Outlook and SAP days, it would take several weeks for a new colleague to get up to speed with the tools. Now they’re often ready to go in just two days thanks to how intuitive and self-explanatory Zendesk and the agent tool are. Even long-time agents at enercity found switching incredibly easy. Sönnichsen notes: “We’ve all noticed just how much quicker everything is now. 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.”

Countless macros and ready-made text blocks for recurring questions have made the service team’s work much easier. And the daily Reporting Overview focuses on the team rather than individual agents. Enercity handles around 100 tickets a day, so team managers are always looking at how much time it’s taking to process each ticket and how long it takes to respond. They use the information provided to explore options for streamlining these processes and to find out when and why Chat conversations couldn’t be offered. Per-ticket processing time fell by a third in the first twelve months alone. Now the goal is to reach 50% (by making even greater use of Chat) and to expand the company’s self-service options. Customer experience is the top priority. And at enercity, customer experience means quick, easy and smooth contact with customers, anytime and anywhere.

“Our team acts a bit like a startup within the company – in terms of our approach but also how we question existing processes”, Jessica Sönnichsen summarises the team’s role. “We’re now whizzing through customer service with the energy of a startup and experience with Zendesk. And the enthusiasm of the team and feedback from our customers have shown us that we’re on the right path.”

“We’ve all noticed just how much quicker everything is now. 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.” Jessica Sönnichsen, Customer Processes, enercity AG

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