Customer service system saves Scottish Water £18m in 12 months

Scottish Water has saved more than £18m in the 12 months since it rolled out a £7m online system from Oracle to improve customer...

Scottish Water has saved more than £18m in the 12 months since it rolled out a £7m online system from Oracle to improve customer service.

The savings have come from an increase in productivity, with staff now carrying out 11 jobs per day rather than five. This has led to a reduction in headcount and overtime payments.

"We had no connectivity before, with jobs faxed or phoned in to regional offices, creating inefficiency," said Cheryl Black, customer service director at Scottish Water. "The new system provides workflow management and an overview of events, so that, for example, we do not have two vans doing jobs in the same road."

Scottish Water spent £2m to buy the technology, £1.5m to implement the system and £3.5m on business change management. This included training, redesigning business processes, eliminating inefficiencies, such as repeat calls, and doing work in a planned rather than a reactive way.

"The ratio of spending shows that this project was as much about rethinking our processes as technology," Black said. "We went with Oracle because most other suppliers wanted to offer us the full CRM package and said our budget was not big enough."

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

Oracle's E-Business Suite underpins the initiative, with the supplier's Teleservice and Field Service applications used to connect Scottish Water's call centre to more than 200 field staff equipped with Panasonic Toughbook 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 the current maintenance and repair projects.

This means more calls can be dealt with immediately, cutting the cost of dealing with repeat calls, said Black. The company is on track to meet targets of 85% of calls to be resolved first time. It is currently achieving 67%, compared to 53% before the programme was developed, she said.

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