Tuesday, 24 July 2018 00:30

Exclusive Interview With Sandra Hogan, Origin Energy

What would you consider as the biggest challenge faced by data professionals today?

Today data professionals need to good at a lot of different things, they need to have technical skills, be able to influence people, tell a story, manipulate information, produce insights, understand how machine learning algorithms work, etc – I think it’s a really tough job for data & analytics professionals in that there’s this expectation they can do so many different things very well, and that’s what I see as one of the biggest challenges.

There’s also a lot of data around, and many organisations are still trying to understand which information to use, when is it appropriate and when is it good to use the information to make a decision.
In what ways have data analytics already impacted the industry that you work in, and how do you think it will continue to influence it?

Since the Retail energy industry became competitive, information is one of those tools retailers use to attract and retain customers, so I think the main impact data & analytics has had, is around the customer side of things, where you see Energy Retailers using data analytics to become more customer centric.

Data & analytics will be a key driver of change in this industry, as there will be a continual focus around the customer engagement. Customers have an expectation they will have electricity when they flick a switch. Due to this expectation, we have to ensure we are thinking more about customer nneds across the entire energy industry and start to work out how do we engage with customers to make our products and services more engaging. I believe we will use data & analytics as the key to unlock that.
How will you harness data and analytics to enhance the customer experience?

We are just starting out our journey in the Energy industry, but I’ve previously worked in more mature industries such as Telco’s where this was more mainstream. In order to enhance the customers’ experience, just make sure you’re doing the basic stuff – you need to understand your customers core needs, be focusing around how to use that information to improve the interaction they have with your products and services.

A lot of customers interact with Energy Retailers at the time of billing or when their contract is up for renewal. So it’s really important to use the information that we have to make sure we are understanding their needs at that point. If the customer is more digital orientated and wants to be engaged online, we need to make sure our data is telling us that and we’re making the digital channel experience aligned to the needs of those customers.

There is an expectation that customer experience is going to be consistent across all levels of interactions. So I think, using information that we have respectfully, but also enhancing it with external data where we can, to make sure we’re not just focussed on the billing around a customer, but also what else they value from us at that point in time. By understanding what other products may enhance that experience as well as the information we have about our customers, we are striving to make every experience as seamless and as easy as possible for every customer.

However, there is still a long way to go, we’re not in the realms of the Telco’s or banks, where they’re looking at much more boarder experiences for a customer – we’re just starting out in this industry.
How do you take customer data, make sense of it, and then distribute that across customer touchpoints?

Something interesting that I’ve noticed is that we’re mixing up the type of people that are joining these organisations. We’ve got people joining from a banking or telco background, which means their expectations about what information they have access to in order to do their job is much more boarder than previously expected.

I think it’s really important that if we’re providing data & analytics to the marketing department, for example, we’re giving them self service capabilities, using visualisation tools and other tools to make the data about the customers more accessible. This allows them to self-service some of their queries and help them become immersed in their customer profile – what do they look like? When are they due for a renewal? What products are they using?

Important things that they should know about their customers they’re serving, particularly in marketing.

For my team, we’re very focused on enabling and creating data sets that are useful and easy to understand, and make them easily available to our internal stakeholders, like the marketing team. This allows them to self-service, empowering them to do their own analysis and not to just be dependent on emailing an analyst to get that information.
How can good governance help to align data into a single, consolidated view?

One of the things that analytics teams have had to become much more conscious about is around data governance, as there’s a lot of things we need to understand about privacy and how we use our information. If we are expecting our customers to trust us with their information and use it appropriately, we need to demonstrate that we’re not just paying that lip service.

Governance should be fit for purpose, as we don’t want to over-govern everything and make it impossible for people to access information, but at the same time we want to make sure we’re meeting customer expectations on how we use their personal information. The laws are one thing, but we also need to consider what we think is an expectation a customer has regarding how we’re going to use their information.

We make sure we have a good understanding of what we’re going to use the information for and why we need to use it. We use peer reviews of what we want to with information and get the input of other people who aren’t so close to the work to make an assessment if that’s the most appropriate thing to do.

Consolidating the data is not the difficult thing, we have technology out there to do that, but what we need to consider is, would that be an appropriate thing to do and is that going to be taken by a customer as in their best interest? My benchmark all the times is that we’re all consumers and it’s not had to do to think how I would feel if my information was used in this way?

Sandra Hogan, Group Head, Customer Analytics, Origin Energy

Join Sandra at the upcoming CDAO Melbourne Conference as she makes her Keynote Presentation: Integrating Customer Personalisation to all Customer Touch Points

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