How you can effectively support your employees in customer contact.

Customer centricity is a topic that has now achieved the status it deserves among energy suppliers. What makes your customers happy and ensures greater satisfaction and genuine customer loyalty also has its downsides: If you want to be so close to your target group, you also increase the pressure on your own employees. Here we show you an example of how you can reduce your employees’ workload – and how easy it is to implement with customer service software.


Service teams under pressure

Since the energy crisis at the latest, customer service teams at municipal utilities and energy suppliers have had their to-do lists filled to the brim. Increased energy costs, electricity price brakes, billing delays, renewal hiccups – customers are rightly unsettled, queries by e-mail, in local customer centers or on the phone have increased, and the need for smartly implemented customer service software is growing.

More work: the feeling is real

An example from Dannstadt-Schauernheim in Rhineland-Palatinate shows the extent of this: “Since January [2023], […] the number of written and telephone inquiries has increased by around 50 percent. In addition, the complexity of the questions has increased significantly, which means that it also takes more time to answer them,” Energiewerke Dannstadter Höhe published in June 2023. As a result, the customer center was partially closed in order to process the requests.


Customers are unsettled

This figure also shows the population’s increased need for advice: According to the federal association, the consumer advice center’s energy advice service provided almost 280,000 consultations in 2022 – almost 100,000 more than in the previous year.


More service needed – but who should provide it?

The challenge: Despite the increased workload, the demand for the highest possible quality of advice remains. A feat of strength for all employees involved. Especially for new colleagues, support staff from temporary employment agencies or career changers, this hurdle is extremely high. Software-supported elements can provide relief in the advisory service and more self-confidence in customer contact.


Relief in customer contact? This is what it can look like

The industry is slowly feeling its way towards artificial intelligence; however, the energy industry is still a long way from the widespread use of such tools. However, digitalization and automation, e.g. in customer service software, are already the other big buzzwords of the time when it comes to noticeably reducing the workload for employees. In terms of content, FAQs are now part of standard communication in customer contact for most suppliers. Wikis have also become established in the advisory teams. The utility company Emscher Lippe Energie GmbH (ELE) from Gelsenkirchen had an innovative idea: Without further ado, they expanded the potential of their journeys developed for the EDL business and are also using them in a modified form and enriched with additional information as an internal consulting tool and customer service software.


All products clearly centered

The service team now has access to journeys for all relevant EDL products, such as heat pumps, wallboxes, car electricity tariffs, photovoltaics, battery storage and others. The basis is the journey that customers also go through.


An example of the e-mobility product shows what this can look like in practice:

On the first page, the team member can go through the individual topics with the interested party, such as car electricity tariff, subsidy or wallbox. If a generic term such as Wallbox is clicked on, First Level Support will find further explanatory information underneath, which is similar to extended FAQs.


Solid guidelines even for inexperienced career changers

The entire wiki is presented on one page so that even inexperienced consultants can maintain an overview. This enables a structured and individualized conversation without the risk of the consultant getting lost in a tree structure that is too deep. In addition, a cost check can be triggered, more detailed information is available, but more customer data can also be entered in order to create a qualified offer with quite extensive information later , simply and automatically.


Noticeable relief & fewer drop-off points

For whom is such a wiki interesting? In principle for all energy supply companies of all sizes. This is because very few inquiries end up directly in the relevant specialist department. If the structure is very decentralized, with several call and customer centers, the path to the right contact person can also be too long for waiting customers: The risk increases that the prospective customer will drop out during the process of being connected or searching for information.

Customers link service quality with company quality

With the easily accessible wiki, stored as an access link on the desktop, every employee is able to speak directly to the customer. This advisory expertise is a key factor in the successful conclusion of a contract. This was determined, for example, in the service study “The Customer Service Barometer 2023”: 91% of respondents agreed that customer service influences their general image of a company; 86% agreed with the statement that customer service influences a repurchase.

How do customers want to communicate?

At 95%, personal contact enjoys the highest level of trust, followed by telephone calls(88%), emails(86%) and post (84%). Contact via chatbots and social media still has some catching up to do in terms of trust: 48% to 60% of respondents trust these channels.


Self-service tools must gain trust

A value that needs to be expanded. After all, self-service tools are an important step on the way to reducing the workload for employees in the service or customer center. Because with self-service tools such as customer portals, customers can make inquiries, solve problems or manage their data themselves – around the clock and without the support of employees.


Why are software-supported elements helpful?

The benefit of using your journeys as a second consulting wiki, for example, is obvious: employees gain more confidence in consulting situations with customers. This is particularly important for new colleagues, career changers, when introducing new products or if product training has already taken place some time ago.


Relief in first level support & customer service software

This also takes the complexity out of the sometimes particularly information-intensive EDL or more extensive funding options and makes the presentation in the customer service software clearer. This leads to noticeable relief in first level support. Information on modified products can also be integrated quickly and stored in sufficient depth.


Customers want to be advised quickly and competently

The importance of advisory skills and self-confidence is underlined by the above-mentioned study: 86% of respondents state that they insist on being connected to a customer service employee within a maximum of 4 minutes when making telephone inquiries. For 37% of them, an even faster connection of less than one minute is the benchmark.


The study concludes that “consumers’ priorities are increasingly shifting towards high-quality customer service and the population is becoming accustomed to rising prices due to inflation. In this context, 53% of respondents emphasize the importance of service quality in terms of customer loyalty in general, both in-store and in online or telephone interactions.”


Bye-bye, sources of error!

But the practical benefits for energy suppliers such as municipal utilities are also obvious: a wiki used in this way minimizes sources of error and facilitates the subsequent processing of the lead, as extensive qualified information regarding the customer’s requirements and individual data is already available.

Why use customer service software at all?

A look at a study from November 2023 shows why it is important to promote the strengths of employees through software-supported elements and to simplify and streamline processes. In its MINT Autumn Report 2023, a report for BDA, Gesamtmetall and MINT Zukunft schaffen, the German Economic Institute (IW) addressed the issue of skills shortages.


Pent-up demand in energy/electrical professions

The figures are sobering: In September 2023, around 476,400 jobs in STEM professions are unfilled. If the gap is broken down by STEM fields, the biggest bottlenecks are in the energy/electrical professions: 81,900 positions are unfilled here.

The study summarizes: “In the medium term, the demand for STEM workers will increase due to digitalization, decarbonization, demographics and the increase sharply. At the same time, a sharp decline in young STEM talent is to be expected in the coming years.”


Promoting young talent now

The following quote illustrates just how precarious the situation will become: “Companies believe that IT experts will be particularly important for the development of climate-friendly technologies and products over the next five years, and (environmental) engineers will also be needed.

37.5% of innovating companies expect the demand for IT experts to develop climate-friendly technologies and products to increase over the next five years. Companies with more than 250 employees even expect 63.2% of them to do so.”



Software-supported elements can make the work of employees at energy suppliers noticeably easier and simpler – even for non-specialist staff. They give them confidence in dealing with customer queries and increase their advisory skills and service quality. This has an impact on customer loyalty and their trust, not to mention the practical benefits such as quick advice or high-quality additional information. Innovations like these from the epilot community encourage municipal utilities in their daily work: as regional suppliers, they are the number one point of contact when it comes to supplying the population. Their competent and trustworthy manner gives customers security, especially when it comes to high investment sums such as heat pumps, PV systems and others.




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