AEP’s Customer Experience Strategy
We deliver a product that makes modern life possible. We are experts at producing and delivering safe, reliable electricity to our customers. That’s a basic expectation customers have of us. Today, however, the bar is much higher; customers want every touchpoint with AEP to be personalized. We have to be responsive to their needs, be available on demand and respond to them in their channel of choice (online, text or telephone).
Customer expectations force companies to be quick and agile. Enhancing the customer experience requires us to have people and processes in place to meet the increasing expectations and changing needs of our customers.
In 2016, under the direction of AEP’s Chief Customer Officer, we organized teams to focus on different aspects of the customer experience. For example, one team is working on channel strategies for serving customers where they want to be served, such as online chat, Twitter or a mobile app. They listened to recordings of customer calls and gathered input from Customer Solutions Center employees to understand what customers are calling about. The team is developing plans to meet these needs in customers’ channels of choice.
The AEP Customer Experience Board was formed to shepherd the customer focus work across the company. The board identified and received funding for 29 projects to enhance the customer experience. Of these, 17 initiatives will directly impact customers’ day-to-day interactions with AEP; others will focus on technology solutions and customer growth.
The first step is establishing a formal strategy that can be applied across the enterprise. In January 2017, we partnered with Accenture to develop a customer experience strategy. We asked ourselves:
- What is the experience we want to create for customers?
- What are the principles we will follow, the value proposition, organizational design, etc.?
- What can all employees do to support the customer experience? What do we need to do differently?
To ensure alignment with the Board, our operating companies have formed local Customer Experience Councils to serve as hubs of information, ideas, skills training and think tanks to address customer issues as we implement new initiatives.
Employee engagement plays a critical role in shaping a positive customer experience. AEP developed the G.R.E.A.T program as a way to engage employees in improving the customer experience by connecting them with customers more effectively. The program provides a platform for employees to learn from each other to continuously improve the level of service we deliver.
Greet customers positively
Respond to customers promptly
Easy to do business with
Assume positive intent
Treat customers with respect and dignity