• September 23, 2004
  • By Coreen Bailor, (former) Associate Editor, CRM Magazine

Cinergy Moves Customers From Dialing to Dial-Up

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Utility company Web sites may not be the Internet's most popular domains, but Cinergy Corporation sought to make its Online Services Web site a more popular destination than its call center. The diversified energy company wanted to relieve its representatives of handling the basic concerns of its 1.3 million residential customers to make the agents available for more complex calls. Cinergy also wanted to track Web usage to determine site layout, marketing strategy, and more. Cinergy had been using a Web-analytics solution, but ran into usability problems. "It wasn't as intuitive as I would [have liked] it to be," says Billy Davis, research manager at Cinergy. "It wasn't as quick to provide answers and reports as I thought it should be." After exploring several systems Cinergy chose Sane Solutions' NetTracker product. Cinergy uses NetTracker to help move customers from the call center to the Web, where they can serve themselves by review their accounts, making payments online, submitting meter readings, and submitting requests to turn power off or on. Cinergy also uses NetTracker to determine the points at which customers decide to exit the site and place a call. Cinergy uses that information to craft marketing campaigns that help keep customers on the site, as well as to move customers from the contact center to the site. "It's an extensive system for reducing the requirement to call into the call center," Davis says. "We are trying our best to migrate customers from the call center to the Web site, and therefore reduce our costs," he says. Davis estimates that it might cost Cinergy from $5 to $10 for calls to the call center for customers to complete different services, whereas when customers complete the same services on the Internet, the cost to Cinergy is only 24 cents to 45 cents. Davis also uses NetTracker to prepare customer usage reports. The people who manage the site can compare from year to year what happens online, "and if there are trends, they would make changes to reflect what customers are doing," he says. And because NetTracker is integrated with Calltracker, a database where Cinergy stores information about its Online Services users, Cinergy is now able to display specific user information in the NetTracker Web site usage reports. Additionally, Cinergy uses NetTracker to track which pages receive the most visitors and position information in a way that customers can easily retrieve the most popular content: billing information. Cinergy redesigned its site putting this information front and center. "Rather than having to dig down to find that, we ended up putting that billing information right on the welcome page, so when they put in their user ID and their password, when the page comes up, it already has their billing information," he says. Cinergy can not only track and analyze activity on its main site, but also on its four operating companies' sites. Having this information allows Cinergy to craft marketing campaigns and site content that reflect customer needs. For example, one element of a seasonal campaign, Breeze Through Summer, encourages customers to conduct a brief audit of their home's energy needs to see how they might save on their summer bills. Davis says when Cinergy formed Online Services, the primary emphasis was to provide customers with one location to find the information they need. Customers have definitely caught on. Cinergy reports a 52 percent increase in visits to the Online Services site between July 2003 and July 2004. The Payoff Using CRM enables Cinergy to:
  • drive traffic to its Web site--the company saw a 52 percent increase in visits to its Online Services site between July 2003 and July 2004;
  • identify the busiest parts of its site and put the content that customers want where it's easiest for them to find;
  • make information generally more accessible to customers;
  • prepare in-depth site usage reports, including information on specific users.
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