Online customer service saves Scottish Water £18m in first year

Utility company Scottish Water said it has saved more than £18m since rolling out a £7m online system from Oracle to improve...

Utility company Scottish Water said it has saved more than £18m since rolling out a £7m online system from Oracle to improve customer service less than a year ago.


Utilities and other companies from the UK, Russia, China and the US are considering using the Scottish Water project, known as Promise to Resolution, as a model, according to Oracle and IT services partner Celerant Consulting.


Oracle’s e-Business Suite software, which underpins the initiative, enables the call centre to deal with customer calls much more efficiently, Scottish Water said.


Oracle’s TeleService software connects directly into the supplier’s Field Service software which, in turn, connects to more than 200 field staff equipped with laptops.


The system allows customer advisers to tap into an online database containing records of customers' previous calls, water service problems in the area and the status of existing maintenance and repair projects.


This means more calls can be dealt with immediately - helping to cut the costs of dealing with repeat calls from frustrated customers, said Cheryl Black, customer service director at Scottish Water.


The company is on track to meet targets of 85% of calls to be answered first time, compared with 53% before the programme was developed, she said.


“Customers like the appointment system because they know exactly when to expect a visit,” Black said. “The field operatives turn up in time, they have the right information on hand and they see the job to completion. It means they deliver for the customer and they deliver for the business.”


The efficiency savings have already added up to around £18m, Black said. “Our regulator has set us targets of cutting operating costs by 40%  by 2005/2006,” she said. “The savings from this one project within Scottish Water has gone some way to achieving that target.”


The £7m investment by Scottish Water was divided into £2m to buy the technology, £1.5m to implement the new system and £3.5m on business change management. This included new efficient ways of working; training for staff, redesigning business processes, eliminating inefficiencies, such as repeat calls and doing work in a planned method rather than a reactive method.

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