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The Answer To The Recruitment Issues In Energy Companies

In this blog post, the challenges faced by utility and energy companies in hiring customer service teams are explored. The yoummday platform is presented as a solution, offering access to experienced representatives working from home, addressing staffing needs without complex outsourcing contracts.

The picture shows empty desks in a call centre
Chris Hague
14 February 2024
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Ensuring the safe and reliable delivery of gas, water, and electricity to millions of homes isn’t easy, but we often take utility or energy companies for granted. They are always working, but customers usually only notice when there is a problem - such as a power outage.

But why do these companies struggle to hire for their customer service team? There are a number of factors that are specific to utilities, in addition to other more general trends in employment.

The most important issue is that most utilities still insist on their customer service agents working in a physical contact center. This means that if the office is located in Hamburg, then they can only recruit people that live within a short distance from the center - say 10km or so. They need to be able to commute.

There are other issues that make it harder to find people close to a specific contact center - these include:

These companies are regulated industries so there is pressure to always get things right. Customer service roles inside utilities face much more scrutiny than in other industries, which can add pressure to the job. Agents or representatives must often navigate complex regulatory requirements and manage customer expectations in this highly scrutinized environment.

Then there is the requirement to understand a complex industry and package of services. Utility companies provide essential services like electricity, gas, and wa-ter. Customer service representatives need to understand the technical aspects of these services to effectively assist customers. This technical complexity can make the job more challenging and demanding than typical customer service roles.

It’s often stressful. Agents may deal with customers in crisis situations, such as power outages, water supply issues, or billing problems. These interactions can be intense and emotionally draining. Customers needing help from their utility company are usually under intense pressure and this can result in anger.

Utility companies need to offer 24/7 support so this can lead to unpredictable or unsocial working hours. This means that employees may need to work in shifts, including nights, weekends, and holidays. These irregular and unpredictable hours can be less attractive to potential employees, especially those seeking work-life balance. If the power goes down on Christmas Day then customers will still expect to be able to call their energy company for help.

The industry is rapidly changing and although this creates opportunities, it also creates more pressure on the employees who feel they need to keep up. Renewable energy sources and new systems and processes are all changing the customer's relationship to their utility company.

These are the main factors that make it difficult to hire customer service talent inside utilities, but there are many additional reasons such as competition from other sectors. A great customer service agent may choose to work with a company that never asks them to work on holidays. Customer expectations are also increasing. Utilities have never had a reputation for great service, but this is becoming unacceptable to customers used to excellent service from other types of business. Utilities are not usually seen as innovative or exciting and this may deter some people from seeking to work in the industry.

Underlying all these issues though is the requirement to work in a local contact center. Once the search for talent can go national, or even global, then the most important problem can be quickly addressed.

Typically utilities have tried to boost their customer service recruitment through the offer of good salaries, training and career guidance, and a supportive working environment, but most of them still struggle. Even with a good salary, it’s hard to keep telling your kids that you are working all weekend.

What can they do?

The Yoummday platform offers a solution that doesn’t require complex outsourcing contracts and can be used to augment an existing customer service team. The platform can help immediately by offering access to thousands of experienced and talented customer service representatives who are available to work - and they are all based in their own home.

You can use the platform to determine how many shifts need to be covered and it will immediately alert the appropriate people, to determine if their availability matches what you need.

It can be used as a complete customer service solution or it can be used to aug-ment an existing team. Use the platform to cover unpopular shifts or holidays so you always have the level of support needed for your customers.

The talents offering their services on our platform choose their hours and the brands they want to represent so nobody is being asked to work a night shift when they don’t want to. Hours that are inconvenient for some may be perfect for someone else.

Yoummday offers a way for utilities to start elevating their customer experience and answering the recruitment challenge that has created problems for years.

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