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Design. Knowledge. Experience.

How Exceleron Provides Excellent Support to Utilities

by Darren Raybourn, SVP of Sales at Exceleron Software

here are exactly ZERO companies that aspire to provide their customers with terrible service. And yet that is exactly what happens all too frequently when companies do not make support a priority. However, the road between saying that you want to prioritize customer service and making it a company differentiator is littered with good intentions and poor strategy. Over the last 17 years of providing payment and prepayment services to more than 100 utilities, Exceleron has developed a reputation for support through a combination of strategies, none of which can be ignored.

Keep reading to learn why we have become North America’s leading utility prepay and payment service company.

Support must be designed into the product from the start.

The best customer support you can possibly provide is often the customer support you never have to provide. In his seminal work Marketing High Technology, Silicon Valley icon William Davidow asserts that “if you eliminate the need for service, you are giving good service.”

So how can one accomplish this?

Quality. Ensuring that your product is defect-free with a robust testing process and both automated and non-automated initial and regression testing is a must; however, in practice, the highest levels of quality are attained by in-field use and not in the lab. Exceleron’s MyUsage was first released in 2004 and has been through numerous improvement cycles as it was deployed to 100+ utilities. The boundary use cases have been discovered in the field and the proven quality of this mature solution has significantly reduced the need for service.

Flexibility. However, quality is NOT the only thing that is required. Product flexibility found in the form of convenient system configuration is equally important. By allowing utilities a measure of self-service in how they configure the system to support their business rules, workflows, user needs, and customers’ notification and alert preferences, we have reduced their need for our service. Again, this sounds easier than it is — we have worked with 100+ utilities and everyone has been unique. Early on in the product maturity lifecycle, we discovered the need to allow our utility customers to configure the system versus having to custom code it.

“MyUsage is great because of the people that I have worked with and how open they are to changes and customizations in our product and what we needed to accomplish. They saw us as special in our own way and they addressed us that way. We were not just another cookie-cutter company.”

— Michael Faulk of Memphis Light, Gas, and Water

Product knowledge is derived from having customers (lots of them).

Exceleron has an incredibly robust training program that teaches our utilities how to use the system and with continuous training programs providing refreshers on base and new functionality. Yet the truth is that our support team’s product knowledge is derived not from what our product does, but rather from what problems our customers have and how our features solve those challenges

For example, our team knows that there are many built-in configuration options to support weather moratoriums both at the system level and at the individual account level. However, the real product knowledge comes from understanding exactly why, how, and when our utilities need to support their entire customers during extreme weather events or even individual customers as part of government-sponsored welfare programs applied at the account level.

In order to capture the utilities’ perspective in aligning features with needs, Exceleron created our MyUsage Utility Advisory Board (UAB) in 2010 as the first user‐driven guidance committee for prepay solutions in North America. The UAB consists of at least 10 leaders from different Exceleron utility customers that have reviewed and provided input on the product roadmap.

Furthermore as detailed in our recent article Increasing Customer Satisfaction with a Great Mobile App Experience, we take great pains to review, assess and incorporate the feedback we get directly from consumers using our mobile app. There is no better and more direct feedback mechanism.

Our experience is measured in decades, not months.

Our support team has well over 100 years of combined experience serving utilities with an average tenure of 16 years with Exceleron. We understand the struggles utilities face in the constantly evolving landscape of technology, regulations, cyclical economies, and now, pandemics, because our team has been through those battles with our utilities over the years. From lofty consumer expectations to the rapid pace of technology, we work with utilities to foresee technology trends that will help them improve their customer relationships and we have built products that help utilities transform their most difficult consumers into their biggest fans. We give customers more options and control, which enhances customer satisfaction while minimizing financial risk for utilities.

Exceleron supports you every step of the way.

No company wants to provide bad customer support, but it takes a combination of strategies to actually provide and be known for great support. Exceleron has a market-leading, end-to-end prepay and payments application, but we go beyond providing the software — we ensure that utilities and their customers are successful using it by leveraging a flexible design and supporting our customers with world-class knowledge and experience.

“Exceleron has been excellent. They didn’t just give us the platform and say good luck. They’re truly invested in helping us grow the business. The support team has been excellent. They’re calling you before you can call them. It’s really a good partnership.”

— Sandra Curling, Sr. Customer Account Analyst, Orlando Utilities Commission