A Great Customer Experience From An Unexpected Place


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Who do you enjoy doing business with? With so much discussion around improving the customer experience, it’s important to ask this question from time to time in order to gauge who is doing what well and where. As a result, I’m reflecting on a positive experience I recently had with a company I do business with. I’m doing this so that I can work backwards in discovering what made the experience so delightful. Documenting and reflecting upon our own customer journeys can be educational and insightful. This post will highlight just one company interaction experience. It comes from an unexpected place.

My electric company is Ohio Edison, which is a subsidiary of First Energy (NYSE: FE). Recently, the power went out in our house. It was 7:30 in the morning, which was good timing because we were already prepared to start the day.

  • The first thing I did was go for my iPad and browse over to their web site using the cell network. The page came up legibly on the iPad, which is not always the case. A good start.

  • Next, right in the middle of the page, at the top of a nice short list of links, I saw “Report an Outage”. It was as if they were expecting me and I liked that very much.

  • Upon clicking through, I was taken to a login page accompanied by a “Register Now” link. However, my attention drifted to the right of the login where there was a “Quick Access” area. This was an intriguing offer. Quick access sounded awesome to me.

Ohio Edison recognized that I might not have the time or the desire to go through the full registration process, even if it unlocked more self-service goodies for me. This was a good user experience move because I (like many others I presume) quickly lose patience with onerous online registration processes. To offer the quick access choice to people who like to breeze through web pages, like me, was an excellent idea. It enabled my customer service momentum to stay in the fast lane, full steam ahead at a time when I would typically get derailed and frustrated by an online form adorned with little red stars indicating all the places where my effort was required. But the Quick Access form only required my phone number, which was the simplest and easiest way for me to identify myself.

  • The account lookup step was darn near instantaneous, and after passing a simple security question that confirmed my address, I was all set to submit my outage report.

  • However, just before exiting, the page asked me if I would like to get a callback indicating that the power to my home had been restored. I changed the contents of the text box containing my phone number to my wife’s number since it was more important that she be notified. I clicked “Yes” and was finished.

The entire process took less than 5 minutes. Reflecting on the experience, it was the smooth sailing through the process that made the experience most enjoyable. There were no self-service dead ends. My customer service momentum never impeded. It seemed as if my needs were anticipated.

At around three o’clock my wife received the callback. It was a recorded message indicating that the power had been restored at the house, which was perfect timing because my daughter was coming home from school shortly.

  • Anxiety averted! This simple proactive measure to close the customer service loop was a delightful surprise.

From top to bottom, my customer journey with Ohio Edison was an enjoyable one. This process was well thought out and nicely designed. It combined different channels of communication. It had speed, efficiency and tFirst Energy customer experience Ohio Edisonime-to-task completion in mind. All are critical in a culture that demands instant gratification. At the risk of insulting First Energy, I’ll say this: If the electric company can create this kind of thoughtful, enjoyable customer service experience…any company can. And just when I didn’t think my expectations could be exceeded any further, Saturday I received my bill in the mail. Inside the envelope was a little flyer advertising the new Ohio Edison mobile app. I downloaded it immediately.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Eric Camulli
As Vice President for 7signal, Eric is focused on helping organizations bring high quality and highly productive experiences to people using Wi-Fi networks everywhere. In today's connected economy, our dependency on robust, reliable Wi-Fi is paramount. Eric is dedicated to ensuring that companies deliver peak wireless performance so that they can compete in a marketplace exploding with wireless devices.


  1. ….even if you’re not in it for the money

    I like this post, because I’ve experienced similar situations with public utilities on occassion. Even though they don’t have to earn customer loyalty, and earn our business the way a vendor in a competitive business does, there is still a lot of benefit in delivering a great customer experiencefor the non-competitive entity:

    A better experience means fewer call-backs, which drives down cost of service delivery.

    A better experience for the customer means fewer frustrated customers with whom employees must engage.

    Fewer frustrated customers means fewer frustrated employees which means less employee turnover, which means lower hiring and training costs.

    Designing a great customer experience can pay off well for a company that doesn’t have to compete for customers!

    Jim Watson
    Portland, Maine


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