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How Real-Time Data Analytics Helps Energy Providers Deliver Exceptional Customer Service

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In an increasingly competitive and complex business environment, energy companies are looking for ways to better manage multiple systems and touch points to provide exceptional service to both current and prospective customers. They need better end-to-end real-time visibility into business processes so that they can immediately remediate "at jeopardy" processes before customers are negatively impacted.

When you consider the number of enterprise applications and legacy systems, the diversity of data among them, and the number of customer-facing processes that energy companies handle every day, the magnitude of the problem becomes apparent. Massive amounts of diverse data must be correlated and analyzed in seconds, and appropriate action taken immediately. It's no wonder that so many companies are stuck in reactive mode - discovering a problem well after the window of opportunity to remediate the issue before it impacts the customer is closed.

Clearly, the key to better customer service is being proactive - resolving issues before customers even know they exist. Once your customer has experienced a problem, you're left scrambling to repair the breakdown and it is very difficult to rebuild their trust in you as a provider of exceptional customer service. Damage control mode is costly, distracting and disruptive for energy companies and for their customers alike.

TXU Energy, a leading provider of electricity and related services across Texas, is a great example of an energy company that leverages real-time visibility across multiple applications and divisions to deliver exceptional customer service. In fact, the capability proved so successful in their customer on-boarding process that TXU was able to successfully extend these principles and tools to other processes and applications.

It all starts with visibility across critical business areas and systems in real-time and the ability for decision makers to respond to changing business conditions within the appropriate window of opportunity. Leveraging real-time visibility through real-time analytics empowers TXU Energy to assess the performance of their end-to-end customer enrollment process. This builds operational intelligence (OI), or the ability to translate real-time visibility into continuous insight and in turn take immediate action to solve problems before they negatively affect customers or the broader organization.

An OI solution taps into a variety of activity streams emitted by processing systems, including application messages, log files, database updates and other systems in use throughout the organization. These activities across systems are then correlated to discover and visualize processes in progress. By measuring ongoing process activity against key performance indicators, service level agreements (SLAs) and other important metrics in real-time, organizations can detect in-jeopardy processes and predict problems around meeting established SLAs. From there, an OI solution can trigger corrective workflows to address these problems quickly and seamlessly.

How does an OI solution really work? Consider these examples.

Let's say that there's a large snow storm traversing the east coast, resulting in frigid temperatures and high winds and subsequently an increased likelihood of a power outage. From an energy provider's point of view, the most critical objective is to offer uninterrupted service for customers in the storm's path, because the impact of an outage in this situation extends far beyond inconvenience. If customers are stuck in their homes in frigid temperatures without heat for an extended period of time, the circumstances can evolve from dire to dangerous quickly.

Leveraging streaming data on the precise location, conditions and trajectory of the storm, energy providers can predict the storm's path and its likely impact on service continuity in real-time. Providers can use this information to not only preemptively dispatch service crews to troublesome areas but also keep customers apprised of what's happening with their service in real-time. This is just one example of how streaming analytics can improve the customer experience by helping energy providers alleviate anxiety and manage expectations.

While streaming analytics is extremely useful for mitigating problematic situations, it is equally valuable for monitoring everyday activities that affect the customer experience. For instance, if energy providers can leverage smart meter data in real-time, they can proactively disseminate information to arm customers with timely information about spikes in their power usage. This helps their customers closely monitor and curtail their energy consumption to avoid big bills at the end of the month.

Streaming analytics delivers a wide host of benefits to energy providers and their customers. The ability to leverage streaming analytics to proactively prevent service interruption and keep customers in the loop about what's happening with their service in real-time during high-risk periods significantly improves the quality of the customer experience.

And the benefits around streaming analytics extend well beyond identifying and rectifying acute problems for customers. Energy providers can also leverage streaming analytics for everyday programs to better serve their customers - programs that proactively help customers understand their usage patterns, alert them to spikes, manage their energy consumption, and keep their bills under control.

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