The Omaha Public Power District (OPPD) is one of the largest publicly owned electric utilities in the U.S., serving more than 855,000 customers in 13 southeast Nebraska counties. Despite repeated recognition for customer satisfaction, OPPD wanted to strive for continuous customer service improvement.
The goal was to improve internal, cross-functional communication and collaboration in ways never seen before. The program would emphasize networking with peers they did not encounter day-to-day. And this ultimately would then lead to greater customer satisfaction through solving customer issues more quickly, creatively and enthusiastically. Secondarily OPPD wanted to identify high-potential individuals for additional training and development.
As part of its overall goal to improve the customer experience, OPPD rolled out Integrity Service. The process was introduced to the entire Customer Service Division, consisting of the contact center, meter reading, customer information system support personnel and the utility’s billing team. As part of this mission, the utility implemented peer collaboration sessions to identify service barriers and generate solutions designed to enhance the customer experience.
Peer collaboration sessions were integrated into OPPD’s customer satisfaction and loyalty training process, connecting management and employees through common goals. These sessions:
- increased cross-functional consistency
- contributed to employee growth and development
- enhanced the understanding of parallel issues among departments within the division
The collaboration process consisted of brief sessions with small groups, context setting, brainstorming ideas and formulating recommendations, and presenting ideas to management.
Managers also observed as employees emerged as leaders from each group, while other individuals took the lead in tackling new tasks. The content the groups provided became a secondary achievement to the individual growth that was demonstrated.
Contact center leaders also used the sessions as a time to listen to contact center recommendations and suggestions not previously heard. Some of them were implemented into the contact center and the utility call center agents recognized they were a big part of that.
The positive impact of peer collaboration on employee engagement continues to aid OPPD’s mission of maximizing customer satisfaction. They use a term called ‘customer service margin,’ defined as the goodwill and loyalty built with a customer. Employee engagement also noticeably increased with internal satisfaction playing a key role in increasing customer satisfaction.
Results of the engagement included:
- increased teamwork and employee engagement
- developmental opportunities
- a prioritized list of customer experience projects
“It gives our employees customer service skills focused on how to value a customer.”Jennifer Johnston
Director, Customer Experience
“We wanted to have some collaboration, so a call center person could sit next to a meter reading person, for example, and they could be working together focused on customer service improvement.”Jennifer Johnston,
Director, Customer Experience
“Another big piece that came out of this was how much it expanded their horizons. We saw elements of certain people’s growth [potential] for other opportunities in the call center that have come about since that time. Someone may be a good presenter, and that was something we didn’t recognize before … because they haven’t had the opportunity.”Cindy Godfrey,
Supervisor, Customer Care Services
For more information about this Success Story Contact:
Vice President of Client Development