“This transformation effort is bringing Meralco’s service into the digital age, and bringing network reliability and responsiveness to a whole new level.”
screen for sales & service agents
Meralco powers up customer experience for the digital age with Salesforce
Utility company Meralco has been keeping the lights on in the Philippines for more than 115 years. Now the company is turning to Salesforce to create customer experiences worthy of the digital age.
Meralco will be an internet company with a power business. That’s the 2021 vision from its chairman, Manuel V. Pangilinan, for the largest private sector electricity distribution utility company in the Philippines. And Meralco has already taken several major steps towards achieving that vision.
For Tony Valdez, Head of Marketing, Customer Solutions and Product Development at Meralco, becoming an internet company with a power business means embracing organisation-wide digital transformation to deliver seamless customer experiences based on transparency.
“Meralco's service will be available on all screens whenever and wherever our customers are,” he says. “We will be reached via a PC, tablet, smart phone, smart TV, watch, or whatever new screen may come up.”
That’s an ambitious goal, and one that Valdez believes will not only drastically improve the customer experience, but also solve one of the major pain points for the company – and its customers.
“Around 70 per cent of our customers pay beyond the due date,” he explains. “That’s why lines are long in Meralco business centres on certain days of the month. And if customers pay through a bank, it takes three to four days to process, and they risk getting disconnected.
“Our customers want to know everything from price increases to brownouts, but the industry is complex. How do we achieve that transparency? How do we put that on their smartphones?”
The solution, says Valdez, is digital transformation with the new Meralco Online initiative at the heart of a reimagined customer experience worthy of the digital age. And the company has turned to the Salesforce platform to help drive this digital pivot.
“The collaboration of our internal team with the Salesforce Success Cloud team has enabled us to realise our strategic vision around customer engagement.”
Driving digital transformation
The first step in Meralco’s digital transformation was a roadmap with a vision to move over 6 million households from a paper experience to a digital experience. To start, this meant moving their sales and service pipeline from a legacy Windows-based Customer Information System (CIS) that required navigation through multiple successive screens, into a more integrated and responsive digital platform.
“Sales Cloud and Service Cloud provided structure and efficiencies in these processes,” says Francis Collantes, Project Manager at Meralco. “Employees can now properly log and monitor leads and opportunities. With the service application process moved to Salesforce, the screens used were drastically reduced and simplified from 15 to just one.”
This has contributed to a five-fold improvement in productivity, says Collantes, and has reduced the time it takes employees to complete a customer service application from 30 minutes to just 10. Management now has access to real-time customer analytics, and sales and service staff are enjoying the new mobility that Sales Cloud and Service Cloud deliver.
“Before Salesforce, service applications could only be updated in the office using company PCs,” says Collantes. “Employees can now easily process the applications online and via the Salesforce mobile app, wherever they are. Employees can also utilise real-time reports and dashboards to properly monitor and act on aging transactions.”
Creating a virtuous cycle of prosperity
Perhaps an even larger game changer has been the implementation of Meralco Online through Community Cloud, which provides a central online channel for customers to log after-sales requests, assess their accounts and services, view and pay bills, report outages, apply for service, and enrol to notifications – all from a single portal.
“Community Cloud serves as the backbone of Meralco Online,” Collantes explains. “Community Cloud is integrated with Sales Cloud, Service Cloud, Marketing Cloud, Heroku, and other third-party platforms such as the payment gateway, and is complemented by the Meralco mobile app.”
Community Cloud will also enable Meralco to roll out an innovative pre-paid system, known as KLoad, which Valdez believes will solve several problems for Meralco customers.
“Pre-payment through Kload will alleviate our customers’ cash flow problems and empower our customers to save on power costs,” he says. “And why would Meralco be interested in empowering consumers to save when it would hit our profitability? Driving a sense of prosperity through savings will help to create a higher standard of living, and that comes with the increased use of power. This is the virtuous cycle of prosperity.”
It’s a smart win-win strategy that will leave both Meralco and the company’s customers better off. And it goes hand-in-hand with Meraclo’s 2021 Smart Grid vision.
“Our Smart Grid or Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) perspective will allow Meralco Online users to view their energy consumption on a more granular level including daily kWh and Peso consumption,” adds Collantes. “AMI utilises smart meters and wireless communications to enable remote meter reading, consumption monitoring, tamper detection and predictive maintenance. These improve service quality and further enhance customer experience.”
Powering the future of customer experience
Deploying such a wide-ranging digital transformation project has been a challenge and involved a four-stage Customer eXperience Engine (CXE) implementation across three key pillars -- simplify adoption, drive retention and increase wallet share.
Meralco called in the Salesforce Success Cloud team to help oversee this process and provide assistance during the project implementation by reviewing the system architecture, providing technical guidance on proposed application design, and helping with the resolution of escalated issues, explains Collantes.
“This includes guiding the development of Meralco’s strategic vision for journey-driven digital marketing programs through Marketing Cloud,” explains Simon Johnstone, Success Director of the Salesforce Success Cloud team. “Meralco needed a program management solution to manage accuracy, timeliness and consistency of all campaigns, and the Success Cloud team is helping
orchestrate full cross-platform lifecycle journeys and execute data-driven, automated, cross-channel marketing programs.”
“The collaboration of our internal team with the Salesforce Success Cloud team has enabled us to realise our strategic vision around customer engagement”, said Gavin Barfield, Chief Technology Advisor of Meralco, “our team has leveraged their knowledge and best practices around the platform, and maximised our own productivity on the journey to success.”
Aligning and integrating multiple cross-platform lifecycle journeys and cross-channel marketing programs through the Salesforce CRM to create a seamless online experience has largely been made possible with Heroku, part of the Salesforce Platform deployment, says Collantes.
“Heroku provides the system of support functionalities for the app. It allows us to scale to meet heightened customer service requests across all our customer journeys, and we have built several key custom functionalities – such as bill PDF storage, notification orchestration, and customer credit score computation – within Heroku, which are not standard for a CRM.”
This process is obviously working. Meralco Online take-up is already at 20,000 new accounts each month, and the Meralco app is the 10th most downloaded mobile app in the Philippines. Around 30,000 new customer accounts are being set up each month, and new account set up timeline is down from 30 minutes to 12 minutes, which has also driven a significant improvement in employee satisfaction.
Meralco’s newly-minted Head of Customer Retail Services and over-all lead for Meralco’s Customer Experience Transformation Program (CXTP) Victor Genuino is delighted with these results, and says Salesforce will continue to play a lead role as the company looks towards the challenges of the future.
“This transformation effort is bringing Meralco’s service into the digital age, and bringing network reliability and responsiveness to a whole new level,” says Genuino. “For 115 years now, we have wanted to provide safe, reliable power at a fair return. Today, we add an enhanced customer experience powered by technology.”
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