It’s hard to believe, but we’ve reached the six-month mark since COVID-19 arrived in our city. For some, this time may have flown by, but for others, it may have felt like trudging through molasses since day one.
Amidst the challenges that have come with protecting one another, it’s safe to say that most of us have developed a deeper desire and appreciation for meaningful connections with others. Social interactions that were perhaps taken for granted are now seen as precious – whether visiting parents, chatting with the grocery store clerk, or (dare we say it?) calling a customer service agent. From an internal and external operations standpoint, making meaningful connections has been equally important at Hydro Ottawa, both in improving processes and connecting customers.
In part three of our quarterly series, spotlighting the people behind powering our city, we look at five key roles that focus specifically on making meaningful connections to serve our customers better.
Meter to Cash (MTC) support functional analyst
Not surprisingly, there’s a complex process behind how your account and billing information can be populated accurately on Hydro Ottawa’s MyAccount customer portal. Analysts on the Meter to Cash team work hard to fine tune this process all the time – creating online self-serve options to speed up the onboarding on new customers and service provisioning; optimizing security features; ensuring accurate and automated billing; and streamlining the collections cycle. As technologies evolve and automation capabilities improve, they are quick to assess, test, and adopt tools that will improve the overall customer experience.
Key accounts coordinator
Nearly every business has customers who may be labelled as ‘key accounts’ – some based on the size of a contract and others based on a unique set of needs. Some examples of key accounts for Hydro Ottawa are The Ottawa Hospital and Amazon Canada. Our key accounts coordinators are important connectors between the customers and Hydro Ottawa. They help customers determine their energy needs and requirements, and then communicate that list to the appropriate departments, ensuring that they can be delivered upon in an effective and timely manner. The key account coordinators also make sure these customers are aware of the variety of services and functions that Hydro Ottawa offers. They aim to connect a customer’s need with an existing service that might be a solution, or identify opportunities to develop new solutions for them. Upon devising new solutions, key account coordinators conduct the research necessary for internal stakeholders to consider. Ultimately, they are the voice of the customer in order to provide ongoing, quality customer service.
When your lights go out from a power outage (or from another power issue), you can be sure a dispatcher is always “on” to assist you. Dispatchers are responsible for all power-related trouble calls related to: full and part power outages; downed powerlines; fallen trees on powerlines; emergency disconnections and reconnections; fire and police calls; and managing all of the 24/7 crews and field operators. When an outage occurs, calls come into our Outage Management System (OMS). This system contains all of Hydro Ottawa’s customer contact information, so when someone phones our outage line, the OMS creates a call on the affected customer address. Dispatchers must prioritize the work required based on the crews available, their location, and the severity of the outage (based on safety risks and number of customers affected). With so many moving parts, this can be like a time-sensitive chess game. Dispatchers are constantly informing and re-informing their teams based on new information they receive. This makes them a key connector for enabling crews to restore power and make service updates as efficiently and as safely as possible.
Customer contact agents
Ambassadors for the company and conduits for all inquiries, Hydro Ottawa’s customer contact agents take pride in serving customers as promptly and as thoroughly as possible – helping with anything from account inquiries and management, to billing, rates, and procedures. Their goal is to help customers connect the dots, instill confidence, and to provide a pleasant experience no matter what problem they are facing. A role like this has very large shoes to fill. Not only do our agents need to be extremely knowledgeable on company processes, they also need to be deeply connected to different departments to remain informed on the latest changes. Beyond that, they need to be consistently kind, patient, and empathetic towards distraught customers. These personable individuals who serve as agents in our company are invaluable members to our corporate team. The next time you have a question, rest assured our agents will take care of you.
Customer experience agent
Don’t let this role title fool you – there’s surprisingly very little overlap between this role and the customer contact role. While customer contact is involved with frontline communication, customer experience agents look at customer interactions from a bird’s eye view with a focus on efficiency and comprehension. They look at all possible customer interaction points – whether through the website, the online web portal, customer service technology and call centres – and assess them and improve the user experience. Maintaining performance reports on all customer interactions is important to them in order to discover trends and to improve new and existing processes. Using the data that they pull paired with customer and staff feedback, they advise on: additional training for the service teams, implementing new products or upgrades, project management updates, and design adjustments to online and customer service workflows. Ultimately, their goal is to connect customers to the resources they need in the most efficient manner possible.
So, the next time there’s a power outage, or you need to log into MyAccount, or you’re phoning our customer service team, it is our hope that you will feel like a valuable member of this complex and interconnected system.