Council cuts pest control costs and improves service with Oracle CRM

Electronic customer management replaces paper-based system

East Renfrewshire Council in Western Scotland has improved public access to pest control services, freed up resources and cut costs through the implementation of Oracle customer relationship management (CRM) and business intelligence software.

Following a review of the council's pest control service, it was mapped and re-engineered to use Oracle CRM software. The council is also using Oracle's Discoverer reporting tool to provide non-technical business intelligence.

The local authority previously used a time-consuming paper-based system to fulfil, manage and record pest control requests from initial call for service to the concluding report. The old method used a system of notes which began when the first service request was made.

As well as costly invoicing procedures, typical problems were names and addresses not being taken down accurately, paper records being difficult to retrieve, and reports on the service having to be created manually.

The Oracle roll-out was part of a wider council project to use CRM to manage customer service requests. Customer details are logged in the system when the initial call is made and a pest control officer is automatically e-mailed a request for service by the CRM system. Payments are taken automatically and reports are produced electronically.

The council said, "Customers receive a better service for extended hours via the contact centre. Frontline staff in pest control no longer have their telephones constantly ringing with council service requests.

"In addition, customer information recorded electronically via CRM is clearer to read and more accurate, allowing the pest control contractor to visit the right property and customer."

The main efficiency gains for the council are due to charges being paid electronically. The previous system cost £4 per invoice - an expense that has been removed completely. Savings in back-office time and capital costs were also made through the removal of paper invoicing.

However, there were challenges for the council to overcome. The main difficulty was associated with getting the council workers and pest controllers to use the system.

"From opening discussions with internal pest control section management and the external pest control service providers to implementation of process was about four weeks, with contact centre staff training taking up the majority of that time. Agreement to work this new way was reached quite swiftly," said Stuart McMinigal, development manager at East Renfrewshire Council.

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