Since I’ve been writing this blog and running this website, I’ve seen a lot of new Retail Electricity Providers (REPs) enter and exit the market. At this point, it takes more than just low rates to set yourself apart in a crowded Texas electricity market, companies have to interface well with their customers. And in my personal opinion, in the age of the Internet, any company that doesn’t have a decent web interface/presence is beyond help. Which is why this video below from Proton Energy just completely blows my mind:
Where do I begin? Is this a joke? For starters, the title of the YouTube video is Proton01.wmv. They couldn’t even be bothered to actually make the title a description of what the video is demonstrating, or even anything related to the content of the video. Very savvy, Proton Energy. Second, when making an instructional video, it might actually be beneficial to get a narrator who doesn’t have a very thick accent and a tendency to mumble and speak in a quiet voice. I hear that being understandable is a key component to explaining and demonstrating things to other human beings. And that is just the superficial issues with this video. Lets take a closer look at the really baffling decisions from a customer perspective.
Who, in this day and age, sits down to try and design a customer interface or portal, and goes with a proprietary windows based offline access system? What group of people sit in a room and think that forcing a customer to download or set up their server access system to link with Proton Energy? Who honestly thinks this is a better idea than, say, building a web access portal like 99.999999% of the rest of the business world? It’s in the point of time where web access to accounts is not only standard, it’s EXPECTED by customers. And here comes Proton Energy, asking customers to access propriety servers, copy shortcuts and links to their desktops so they can access it “easier” next time, and generally just making it as difficult as possible for a customer to access their bills and information. That’s the exact opposite of how customer service works, and generally how to not set yourself apart, or even equal, to your competition in the Texas electricity market.
Here’s some other questions that are pertinent. Does this setup allow access for customers using a Mac, and if so where are those instructions? Does this connection work for every version of Windows on the market? If not, which ones? If so, are those instructions the same? If not, where are the separate instructions? As someone who has worked in the tech space and web technologies before, I can promise you that this setup is a customer service nightmare. If Proton had a large customer base, I’m certain their call center would be flooded with questions about getting this access set up and running. And I assure you, there would be issues. How can I be so confident? Because I had one, and I consider myself pretty web-savvy. To be specific, I got exactly 20 seconds into their video and step #2 (Access Your Record) before things fell apart. I clicked on the Access Your Record, link, only to get the following screen:
Real Impressive, Proton. Of course that screen could be a result of several things. One, something on their end isn’t set up correctly and causing the portal to fail. Two, and this is the real nightmare, it’s that something on the customer’s computer isn’t set up correctly. And that makes troubleshooting this with each potential customer a complete nightmare. Are my settings correct? Is there something not installed on my system? It could be any number of things, and those things could be completely different for each customer and their computer.
The whole thing is absolutely absurd. How can anyone looking for an electricity company look at this and take Proton Energy, seriously? I know that I certainly didn’t.