Duke Energy’s Outdoor Lighting team faced a challenge – they needed to improve service to customers, but they weren't receiving enough information to find a solution.
In some cases, Michael Leeks, general manager of lighting programs, wasn't hearing about problems for as many as eight weeks after an incident.
"In football, if you figure out what you're doing wrong at halftime, you have a chance to course correct in the second half," he said. "But with our old system, it was like finding out at the end of football season what you did wrong in the second game."
What happened next shows how Duke Energy’s focus on customers plays out – and how Outdoor Lighting and the Customer Experience Transformation (CXT) team worked together to review customer data and come up with a plan to improve service.
"Our goal was simple: Make the customer happy," said Robert Rady-Pentek of the CXT team. "The Outdoor Lighting team was getting customer surveys back, but they weren't getting timely actionable data from them. Customers could tell us they were satisfied or unsatisfied – but we needed more information to understand what specific actions to take."
Leeks' team, which covers all of Duke Energy’s service areas, gets more than 500,000 requests for lighting repairs, new installations and upgrades every year. They needed to get survey results faster and they needed to know specific improvement actions to improve customer satisfaction.
“Customers can get their lighting needs filled elsewhere," Leeks said. "We need to ensure they want to do business with us."
CXT held a workshop with Leeks' team, including call center employees who manage work orders and contractors who make lighting repairs. Rady-Pentek told them the data pointed to three main areas their customers cared about: speed, first-time resolution and communication.
"If the team can get all three of those right," Rady-Pentek said, "we are confident we can deliver an outstanding customer service experience."
The first metric was speed. "That's making sure we have the right number of resources to deliver," Leeks said.
Getting it right the first time involves coordination between the call center and field employees, as well as taking advantage of an enhanced online reporting tool. "It starts with getting the right information," Leeks said. "Which light is out?"
Field staff charged with making outdoor lighting repairs are instructed: Don't leave the job site until you've addressed what the customer reported or communicated next steps if further work is required.
Since implementing a more robust online survey and providing specific, timely satisfaction metrics, the turnaround has been dramatic. Customers are noticing and praising the company in their own words, highlighting what matters most to them.The new survey uses Net Promoter Score (NPS) as the outcome measure, enabling calculation of the most important drivers of the experience as well as customers’ perception of performance.
"The streetlight repair was done the next day after I reported it," said a Duke Energy Indiana customer. "Very excellent. Past requests in my neighborhood were extremely slow and took many follow-ups, so this response was very good."
Leeks now knows what his team did right – or wrong. "We can look at the comments, show them to an employee and say, 'Your speed was great, but you didn't fix it right the first time.' It's been such an eye opener."
Now that Leeks has the right data, he can use it to elevate the performance of his team. "We want our best performance to become our standard performance.
"We understand that lighting," Leeks said, "is essential to people's livelihoods and their safety."