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“Customers who opt for a callback are not nearly as annoyed or angry. They have had time to focus on something other than waiting.”

Erin Badger, FirstEnergy contact center agent

Company

FirstEnergy’s 10 regulated distribution companies form one of the nation’s largest investor-owned electric systems, based on serving 6 million customers in the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic regions. Stretching from the Ohio-Indiana border to the New Jersey shore, these companies operate a vast infrastructure of more than 194,000 miles of distribution lines, and are dedicated to providing customers with safe, reliable and responsive service.

75% of customers have a more favorable opinion of the company after choosing a callback

52-54% of customers choose to receive a callback

Challenge

John Falvy, FirstEnergy’s Director of Contact Center Operations states, “We just felt that at times, especially during peak periods like Monday mornings, some of our customers were waiting in the queue way too long. Increasing customer satisfaction was our primary goal.”

“Customers can become irate if they have to hold for a significant amount of time,” Falvy further explains. “The agent must then diffuse the customer right off the bat.”

Solution

Thanks to its strategic use of VHT Callback™, FirstEnergy has managed to improve customer service, while lowering operational costs and elevating agent morale in its contact centers.

Falvy indicated that FirstEnergy’s success with Callback required careful planning, proper implementation, daily testing and monitoring of the system, and a solid understanding of the art and science of contact center management.

“It’s just one tool among many in the call management toolkit. It’s a vital tool, but you also have to have good forecasting and scheduling systems in place, as well as some other enabling technologies in order to augment what VHT offers.”

52-54 percent

52-54% of callers given the option choose to receive a callback

75 percent

75% of customers have a more favorable opinion due to VHT Callback.

Real Results

On average, just over 50% of FirstEnergy callers who are offered the option, would rather be called back than wait on hold.

“We’re generally in the 52%-54% range, and we’re seeing it get more accepted,” says Falvy.

VHT Callback has also reduced the number of customer complaints, which has boosted morale among contact center workers.

“That can take a big toll on agent motivation and morale. But now that far fewer FirstEnergy customers enter a call feeling like they’ve just had precious minutes taken from their lives, agents receive far fewer verbal complaints.”

“Customers who opt for a callback are not nearly as annoyed or angry,” says Erin Badger, an agent at FirstEnergy’s contact center in Akron, Ohio. “They have had time to focus on something other than waiting.”

Of course, cutting down on customer complaints also helps to reduce call handle times, which combined with lower costs, makes a highly effective solution.

Soon after implementing Callback, FirstEnergy followed up with customers to gauge their opinion of the improved customer service option. Here’s what they found:

  • 75% of customers who used it had a more favorable opinion of FirstEnergy because of Callback.
  • The median wait time VHT Callback users found “unacceptable” was 20 minutes, compared to just 10 minutes for those staying on hold.

“We used to hear complaints on how long people had to wait on hold,” says Megan Engleman, Senior Customer Service Associate at FirstEnergy’s contact center in Reading, Pennsylvania. “Now we hear compliments on how nice it is to have the service.”

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