To help navigate these changes, here are 5 key steps on how to design a customer service infrastructure that not only keeps you on right side of the law but will supercharge the support you provide to your ever growing customer base.
Steve Sullivan, Head of Regulatory Compliance
As the move towards the electrification of road transport accelerates, so too does the rapid development of the nationwide EV charging infrastructure. However, unlike most newly developing business sectors, the world of electric vehicle charging is taking shape under a significant amount of regulatory guidance and expectation. This doesn’t just extend to planning concerns about the physical appearance and location of chargers, but also how they work and the experience of their customers.
The regulations in place are designed to ensure a whole series of goals including: 99% charge point reliability; physical accessibility and inclusiveness for users; ease of contactless payments; pricing transparency; and the growth of payment roaming providers, which offer the ability to access multiple competing networks from a single app.
“Ultimately, charging your EV should be easier, cheaper and more convenient than refueling a petrol or diesel car, wherever you live” Secretary of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.
What about customer service?
The Public Charge Point regulations also provide very specific and demanding expectations about how the network operators provide contact centre customer service support. Charge Point Operators (CPOs) are legally required to provide a Helpline service accessible from a freephone number. The helpline must be staffed (presumably by real people, not hallucinatory bots) 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Starting this summer, CPOs will need to provide monthly reports of their customer service helpline performance, both to their regulating department in government, the Office for Zero Emission Vehicles (OZEV), and the Secretary of State at the Business department.
The reports are detailed, too. They will cover:
- total number of calls the helpline received
- reasons for the helpline calls*
- time taken to resolve the helpline call
- if the issue was not resolved by the reporting date, the reason why
*regulators often seem to think all customer contact is by the phone, still …
Naturally, there are enforcement powers which include a series of fines, including up to £10,000 for Helpline failings. But more significantly, if CPOs fail in their various obligations, they can be hit by a block on any further expansions of their networks.
A massive growth opportunity
The Government is targeting a minimum of 300,000 public electric chargers by 2030 – an almost six-fold increase on the 54,000 there are now. By comparison, there are currently c.8,000 petrol stations in the UK with c.66,000 pumps serving around 37 million internal combustion vehicles.
For CPOs, they need to scale their operations at a pace unlike, say, their predecessors of a generation ago – the mobile phone or internet service providers. They are faced with the same customer experience challenges of supporting consumers as they navigate a new marketplace, taking people from the shock of the new to their escalating expectations of a vitally needed utility service. But now they need to do so with an added layer of regulatory demands and targets – on top of the operational pressures of exponential growth in locations, customers and contacts.
Some CPOs may be attempting to build their own capabilities. They will need world-class technology and experienced customer servicing hands to design a service that not only meets customer expectations, but regulatory obligations too. For those who wish to outsource, they’ll need the right contact centre providers, and should pay particular attention to those with experience in regulated industries.
Either way, there is a huge opportunity to bring existing customer servicing expertise to this market, particularly for those who can demonstrate their ability to design and execute for scale, quickly and reliably.
The road to success
To do so successfully will mean designing a customer service infrastructure that combines:
- The smart use of data from their connected networks;
- Seamless advisor insight into the customers’ status and history – and third-party applications, like those for payments and roaming access (giving consumers access to multiple charge point networks);
- The resources and planning know-how to deliver a reliable but efficient 24/7 service;
- Skilled front-line advisors trained and willing not just to guide new customers through new processes, but support people at potential times of vulnerability and stress; AND
- The ability to expand service provision to match the scale of growing networks, while enhancing the effectiveness and efficiency of customer service operations, applying insights gained on the ‘front line’.
This is a major undertaking, whether CPOs meet the customer service challenge internally or draw upon varying degrees of expert partner and/or outsourced service provision.
Here at Contact Centre Panel, we know that delivering high quality customer service in a fast growing, regulated market is hard both to plan and execute. It will be essential that CPOs capitalise on the expertise of those who have done it before and recognise some of the pitfalls and the tools and techniques on which to base success.
If you’d like to supercharge the design of your customer servicing environment, or find the right outsourced our technology match, get in touch. We’d love to help.