NiSource Inc. (NYSE: NI), one of the largest fully-regulated utility companies in the United States, is announcing the launch of chatbots and live chat technologies by its operating companies. The chatbots and live chat are available on the Columbia Gas and NIPSCO websites and on their mobile apps.
Customers have told us they want more convenient ways to get answers to their questions without having to call our call centers. Chatbot and live chat allow customers to get immediate answers to key questions, including enrolling in payment plans, viewing their usage, reporting an electric outage (NIPSCO only), finding payment locations, understanding bill charges, and learning about different financial support options. The chatbot also can provide answers to frequently asked questions, such as information about COVID protocols, work taking place in your area, and optional services. While chatbots function through artificial intelligence, live chat connects customers with a live customer service representative through the Customer Care Center. These representatives can answer more complicated questions that require additional research.
“At NiSource, we are dedicated to providing an enhanced and effortless experience for our customers,” said Jennifer Montague, senior vice president and chief customer officer at NiSource. “Customers have continually asked for more options to handle their needs. The chatbots and live chat give them the ability to engage with us in the channel of their choice at their convenience.”
In response to customer requests, NiSource’s operating companies also recently launched Columbia Gas and NIPSCO mobile apps, enabled stop, start and move service on the customer websites and the mobile apps, and elevated promotions of paperless billing, encouraging customers to view their bills online anywhere, anytime at their convenience.
“Customer digitization is helping our customers get the information they need and make changes to their service at their convenience, Montague added. “As customers continue to request more digital options to do business, we will continue to look for additional enhancements to existing technologies.”
In 2022, NiSource also implemented a new conversational interactive voice response (IVR) that improves the customer experience by allowing customers to more easily find answers to their pressing questions. The new IVR now enables customers to use the automated system to enroll in AutoPay, find payment locations, and utilize enhanced budget billing options, in addition to managing their account details.