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How We Built The Friendliest, Most Effective Customer Support Center This Side of the Mississippi

customer support center PTR

The team celebrating exceeding enrollment goals for the Ameren Illinois Peak Time Rewards program.

Our customers are at the core of everything we do, whether we’re helping residential ComEd or Ameren ratepayers save money on their bills or connecting low-income residents with retrofit resources. To improve service to our customers, we’ve maintained a direct customer support center in-house since 2001. The team has grown and developed over those 15 years, but our dedication to supporting Elevate’s mission has never wavered.

If you’ve ever called or emailed us with questions on how to save money and energy, you’ve probably spoken with one of our friendly experts. Our talented team serves a wide variety of programs ranging from dynamic electricity pricing to energy efficient building services. Over the years, our customer support center has worked tirelessly to differentiate ourselves from the traditional customer support center, and this effort has paid off in more ways than one.

How do we help our customers? What makes us unique?

Elevate’s customer support center strives to distill complex, diverse programs into actionable and relatable information. When our customers call in to ask us about our programs, the last thing they want to deal with is a complicated system—they’re already looking for answers to difficult questions. Customers consistently have short wait times, and they are connected right away with an expert on the subject matter, minimizing the number of transfers.

Our program support associates have in-depth knowledge of our programs and can explain them in a variety of different ways, depending on the prior knowledge of the customer, leading to high customer satisfaction rates for all of our programs. For example, for the sixth year, the majority (86%) of Power Smart Pricing participant survey respondents rated their level of overall satisfaction with the Elevate Energy customer support center as satisfied or very satisfied.

So how did we do it?

Our number one priority is providing high quality support to our customers. Sounds simple right? Not quite.

We use robust metrics and customer feedback to continually measure and improve the customer experience. As we collect this detailed data and feedback, it is used to design, implement, and guide all of Elevate’s programs to help create and improve effective communications and processes. We also tailor our approaches to ensure we’re delivering on our mission of smarter energy use for all: while other customer support centers move toward a more digital-only focus, our team ensures that we’re also still reaching underserved populations through bilingual support and printed materials when needed.

customer support center impact wall

The team making pieces of their Impact Wall in the Customer Support Center.

We’re a nimble, efficient team. We hover right around eight employees – “small” customer support centers generally start at 20 employees. In 2016, our program support team served ten programs. While the average length of employment in typical customer support centers is approximately 3 months, our team boasts an extremely low turnover rate. By investing in tools and training for our staff, doing plenty of team building activities, maintaining a fun and supportive environment, and providing opportunities for professional growth, our team members stay for an average of two years, and most have transitioned into other roles at Elevate. As a result, we have staff with the skills and expertise to evolve as our programs do—and can hit the ground running.

On to the future…

We’ve grown along with Elevate—in 2012, we had an inbound volume of about 10,000 calls, and in 2016 we handled nearly double that with more than 19,000 calls! And we’re not just taking calls—our customers receive support that helps them save energy and money. The customer support center has come a long way, and we’ve helped thousands of customers—but don’t expect us to rest on our laurels. We’ll continue improving; it’s part of who we are.

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