Customer Contact, Customer Care

Customer expectations and enhancements in technology are changing the way our customers interact with us and us with them. Although we continue to see an increase in online transactions - customers conducted more than 21 million online transactions in 2016, or a 7 percent increase from 2015 – we find that self-service options are not always preferred. Online bill pay and other online services are convenient options for our customers; however, we are finding that some of our customers are active consumers, looking for cleaner, smarter energy solutions that require more personalized and complex customer care.

In 2016, our Customer Solutions Centers handled approximately 21 million customer calls, compared with 23 million in 2015. Mild weather and an increase in electronic channels, such as online bill payment, resulted in lower-than-expected call volumes. As AEP continues to offer more enhanced energy and service options, we expect those numbers to continue to decrease as customers use more self-serve options.

As the expectations and demands of our customers continue to change, so too will the metrics we use to measure our performance and success. Today, we pride ourselves on quick customer service. However, as we work to improve the overall customer experience, we have to consider our customers’ unique needs, understanding that quick service isn’t always the best service. We are taking a fresh look at our metrics and expect to implement new ones that better align with our focus on excellence.

When the new Customer Solutions Center technology comes online in 2018, we will be better equipped to respond to customers’ individual needs, more efficiently and cost-effectively.