Four County EMC

North Carolina co-op restructures way members can make payment arrangements, using rules engine to reduce communications obstacles

Four County Electric Membership Corporation, an electric cooperative based in Burgaw, North Carolina, integrated their customer service portal, interactive voice response (IVR) system and customer representative call center in June 2015 with SEDC’s Automated Business Rules Engine to provide members with 24/7 access to their accounts and a more streamlined, convenient way to make payment arrangements. Nearly two years later, the tool has proven vital to managing the challenges of a retiring workforce and managing payment plans for members affected by ongoing regional economic challenges.

Four County’s use of the SEDC Rules Engine – a software system that executes business rules from company policy in a runtime production environment – has paid off. The engine ensures that every customer receives the same response for a payment extension request from every communication channel. As soon as the utility’s criteria for granting additional time to pay is configured in the Rules Engine, it is automatically and consistently communicated to customers from every customer service representative, the IVR system and customer service portal.

“No matter when you call in, no matter who you talk to, you’re going to get the same answer,” said Stacy Hadden, Four County’s consumer accounting supervisor. “This has simplified customer service communications in many cases into a one-call resolution.”

With a recent increase in retirements in the Four County office, the Rules Engine accelerated training of new employees. They learn the rules faster and are prepared to provide accurate, efficient service to members.

The tool has also eliminated the need for workers to return calls from those calling after business hours. With Rules Engine integrated into the IVR system and accessible 24/7, the automated system responds promptly at any time, providing the same, accurate information.

Hadden said the co-ops biggest challenge in recent years has been helping customers hit by economic hardships to arrange payment plans that meet their needs.

“We want to ensure all members are able to pay their bills on time while also making it as convenient as possible for them,” said Hadden. “SEDC’s Rules Engine helps us establish clear, consistent business rules to offer a variety of payment times and channels.”