Xansa will handle more than 700,000 cases of exceptions to metered billing and customer correspondence for Thames Water each year, accessing its Swindon-based customer services systems remotely from India.
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Thames Water said no jobs would be lost as a result of the business process outsourcing (BPO) deal.
Richard Sykes, chairman of outsourcing advisory firm Morgan Chambers, said Thames’ move to offshore outsource a back-office function marked a first for the utility sector.
“It’s a very natural development for Thames and a measure of how things are going. We’ll see a lot more deals such as this,” he predicted.
Sykes pointed out that Xansa already has an intimate knowledge of Thames’ back-end processes, gained through a 15-year relationship between the two companies. The relatively low operating costs in India should prove cost effective for Thames, he said.
Another potential benefit is that if Thames Water improves its customer service levels it could improve its relationship with the water regulator Ofwat, said Sykes.
The BPO service has only been live for six weeks but Linda Maslen, Thames Water’s customer services director, said it is already a “phenomenal success”, reducing costs through process efficiencies.
In the first month Xansa exceeded its service levels by 17%, helping to clear a backlog of transactions. As part of its service level agreement with Thames, Xansa has to process correspondence within four days.
After three months it has to process 90% of metered billing exceptions by day one and 100% by day three.
Altogether Xansa will process around 270,000 items of correspondence and resolve around 500,000 metered billing exceptions each year, aided by document capture and imaging technology.
Thames Water, whose 13 million customers in the UK and Ireland make it the world’s third-largest water company, would not put a cost on the contract.