Business Changes that We’ll See for Years to Come
By Rich Rutigliano, PriMedia
Energy marketers are often unsung heroes, making fuel deliveries and service calls at all hours and through blizzards, sub-freezing temperatures, hurricanes and more. This past year saw them doing all that and more as the country faced the COVID-19 pandemic. As essential workers, heating and energy businesses didn’t stop, but procedures needed to be adapted to keep employees and customers safe and secure.
Like so many of you, we are looking forward to widespread distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine and a new, new normal – one that harks back to our pre-pandemic interactions but maintains some of the processes of the past 10 months. The changes implemented as so many of us transitioned to remote workforces (even if only temporarily) and digital services will be integrated into many companies’ standard operating procedures – and for good reason.
Online Payments and Processing
Thanks to the home-grown, local nature of many home heating oil and propane companies, just about every office has a cadre of “regulars” who stop by to pay their bills and chat with the office staff. In the time of the pandemic, doors had to be closed to drop-ins and notices were posted requesting online payments. PriMedia clients with ADD Systems Energy 3® integrations had a distinct advantage over those with simple payment gateways. With SmartConnect®, their customers could pay invoices with just a few clicks, and customer service reps could log into accounts to assist new portal users, walking them through the screens or even processing the payment on their behalf.
Integrated online portals were vital in many other ways this year. With limited in-person staff to field customer calls, companies saw increased traffic to their portal pages. Our clients averaged a 36 percent increase in traffic to their SmartConnect® integrated portals, with one customer seeing visits rise more than 130 percent. Consumers were accessing all available features, including account management, invoice and document review, online payment and delivery and service requests.
Remote Service Calls: Tele-medicine for Service Departments
In response to the “new normal” of the pandemic, PriMedia developed the MyTec™ Remote Service Call feature, which companies can make available through their account portals or from their home page. Remote Service Call requests submitted through a SmartConnect® integrated portal are forwarded to the service department with the properties’ service histories attached, giving the tech advance knowledge of any recent issues.
Like tele-medicine for service departments, MyTec™ gives technicians and dispatchers a chance to assess the issue over video chat, walk the customers through standard troubleshooting procedures, and diagnose the issue without, or before, walking into the home.
Customers are able to use the remote service calls to show the techs the problem or let them hear any “strange noises,” and the technicians, in turn, can request zoom-ins on the parts in question, manufacturer labels, gauges and more. In many cases, the issue is fixed by giving the customer step-by-step directions during the remote call. If a service call is still required, the company has a clear understanding of the issue. This enables dispatch to schedule the appointment based on the urgency of the problem and the estimated repair time needed, and ensures that the appropriate parts are on the truck. The technician is able to complete the service more quickly, because the troubleshooting and assessment has already been completed. By integrating SmartConnect® with MyTec™, these businesses are able to better plan their service schedules, reduce on-site service calls, and spend less time on-site per call.
These types of results only underscore what we have been saying for years: integrating your ADD Energy E3® with your online portal is good for your business. The majority of customers will easily and readily create their online account, and the “view as customer” feature on PriMedia’s inVue dashboard lets your customer service reps help customers unfamiliar with online services. SmartConnect’s write-back functionality frees staff from manually entering online payments, speeding up payment processing and cash flow.
Years ago, when we began developing the first online account management portals, remote service calls were a thing of the future. The nascent technology of video calls was limited to high-tech businesses. Today, doctors provide remote medical care and grandparents and toddlers video chat regularly. While there are many situations that require on-site repairs by one of your expert technicians, our clients are seeing bottom-line benefits to offering remote services. If you are looking to integrate your ADD Energy E3® data with your website services, please give PriMedia a call.
For more information on integrated customer portals and remote service calls, please contact PriMedia at 800-796-3342 or www.goprimedia.com or your ADD Systems sales associate at 1-800-922-0972 or firstname.lastname@example.org.