Arizona Public Service (APS) is the largest utility company in Arizona, U.S and serves more than one million customers
According to J.D. Power, customer satisfaction within the utilities sector is lower than insurance, airlines and retail banking. Aware of this issue, APS wanted to increase their customer satisfaction while reducing their high customer service cost structure that came from a largely offline (by phone or in-person) transaction.
As customer expectations have shifted heavily towards digital for completion of utility transactions, such as paying bills or reporting outages, to serve their customers in the best-possible way – as well as within the most cost-efficient means possible – APS asked Vertic to reimagine the APS.com customer experience.
Convenience and ease of conducting transactions (paying a bill, reporting an outage etc.) are key for a utility’s customer experience. These are the only means by which a utility can forge a truly meaningful relationship with their customer – they would not otherwise have a relationship around the product itself – and thus they need to be known first and foremost for that excellence in customer service.
Through initial customer research APS had identified hundreds of use cases. Vertic’s research methodology was able to narrow down and prioritize these while aggregating them into eight overarching areas of improvement necessary for the site.
Recognizing that personas for the site were not only split by business or residential customers, but that the latter had a wide array of stakeholder needs – ranging from concerns about energy efficiency for purposes of sustainability, through to saving money, and including those that managed multiple accounts – the insights from Vertic interviews and surveys provided the foundation for a customer centric experience on APS.com.
A key aspect of the new APS.com was to create a user experience and design that would entice users to sign up for online accounts and subsequently complete transactions. Vertic’s UX provided comparison graphs and other tools, which would be personalized by user profile, to establish trust - in particular for the bill payment and outage reporting functionalities – through the communication of the full step-by-step journey of each transaction. Alert banners and messages would be proactively displayed and sent to users in areas affected by an outage to pre-empt and mitigate user annoyance.
Creating a link between APS.com and social channels as an exit destination increased dialogue between customer and brand, as did the push to download and make use of the unique capabilities of the APS mobile application.
The new APS.com leveraged Vertic’s Share of Life thinking to provide users with meaningful interactions. Rather than focus simply on transactions that were of benefit to APS – e.g. collecting money owed from a bill -, the experience focused on what could be of benefit to the customer, such as understanding why a bill may have increased or decreased since the previous month. This moved perception of the APS brand from a transactional focused utility company to an energy partner.