Paving the way to customer service with VIER engage


The Challenge

Customer satisfaction is a top priority for the energy supplier rhenag - Rheinische Energie AG (rhenag). In order to be reliably available for its customers online and by phone at all times, rhenag needed a cloud-based complete solution from VIER, which was gradually put together from various modules. This comprises the telephone customer contact in inbound and outbound, the telephone self-service and the determination of customer satisfaction.

The Solution

Since 2009, rhenag has been using the virtual ACD from VIER and thus ensures the best availability of customer service: "At that time, the contract for a stationary PBX in our service centre in Siegburg expired. It was a good opportunity to change, because we found the previous solution too rigid and difficult to operate," recalls Peter Krupp, who is responsible for customer service technology at rhenag. In the search for a new, local solution, the cloud ACD from VIER came into view: "At first, it was only important to us that an ACD had to be flexible and easy to use, i.e. without programming knowledge," says Krupp. The VIER ACD was convincing. Another point was added: "We had not even thought about a virtual solution. But now we had the opportunity to integrate our 50 employees from the nine regional service centres into the telephone service in addition to the service centre. 

These rhenag branch offices are responsible for customer enquiries and technical problems on site and until then could only be reached via the exchange connection. "But since the call volume in the service centre was steadily increasing, the cloud ACD was ideal for expanding the telephone service!" Since then, the nine regional service centres, in addition to the service centre in Siegburg, have been connected to the VIER ACD, which distributes around 27,000 calls per month across all locations. 150 to 170 employees handle the various rhenag hotlines. 95 percent of the calls come from private customers with questions about their contract, tariffs, billing or meter reading. 

"Commercial customers have hotlines with corresponding prioritisations and responsible service teams at their disposal," explains Krupp. But that is by no means all: "As a service provider, we take over the customer service of smaller competitors and are also the contact in the area of energy procurement." Last but not least, rhenag acts as a billing service provider for around 40 other municipal utilities, and an IT service team answers 500 calls from software users every month. "In addition, we also rent out e-bikes via customer service, which generates an additional call volume," adds Krupp.  

The service offers are just as diverse as the service tasks: "Just for the transmission of the meter readings, which we continuously request throughout the year in one supply area after the other, we offer three ways: The free return of the meter reading card we send out, the entry in the online portal or by telephone with 'ELZE' - Electronic Meter Reading Entry by VIER". The self-service via a voice portal with a simple menu structure was introduced in 2011 and is used around 3,800 times every month. Those who still do not manage to report their figures on time are contacted personally: "Estimates of consumption are possible, but the data are also used to extrapolate demand! Therefore, we try to get the figures via telephone campaigns," Krupp describes the procedure. 

Since 2014, customers whose meter readings are missing after the deadline have been called between 3 and 8 p.m. via the VIER dialer and asked for the data. With success, says Krupp: "We reach a lot of customers and that improves our data situation. In addition, we establish a positive, personal contact, which pays off in terms of customer loyalty!" 

rhenag also gives customer loyalty a chance in difficult cases: customers who are in long-term debt and ignore the letter informing them of the impending disconnection are called three days before the deadline via the VIER dialer to find a solution together: "Disconnections are time-consuming, expensive and unpleasant, so we want to avoid them," says Magnus Hellmund, Head of Customer Service Receivables Management. "In a personal conversation on the phone, this is often possible!" The same applies to customers who have cancelled their contract: "Before the contract expires, they are asked about the reasons by phone as part of a campaign and provided with solutions or offers - we win back about 20 percent of the cancellers this way!"  

"We take great care of our customers, so we also want to know whether they are satisfied with us," Peter Krupp states. In order to determine customer satisfaction, since 2012 every second caller in customer service has been automatically invited to take a retrospective customer survey before the call begins by means of VIER Voice of the Customer - with the exception of repeat callers from the past two days. They are asked to stay on the phone after the conversation.  

For the customer survey, the VIER system asks three questions about satisfaction with the previous conversation and one question about satisfaction with the services. The evaluation is based on the school grade principle. Once a month, customer service manager Dr. Frank Nahrendorf receives the result: "We already achieve an even grade 2. However, we would like to become even better!" And what about satisfaction with the cooperation with VIER? "The cloud concept has brought us many advantages," answers Krupp. "And since the same contact person is always there for us and all desired adjustments are implemented as quickly as reliably, we are completely satisfied. Grade 1!"

About Rhenag

The well-established regional utility rhenag - Rheinische Energie AG, founded in Cologne in 1872, combines energy know-how and the expertise of a utility service provider under one roof. rhenag supplies 130,000 customers with modern energy solutions and is also a cooperation and service partner for around 200 companies in the energy sector - throughout Germany. In addition to innovative products and services, the comprehensive service is convincing. The VIER solutions contribute to this.

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