Contributor: David Cain
Many utility customers today are focused on expanding their retail market presence and increasing their client acquisition channels while continuing to lower the operating cost per client. The key to successfully executing this strategy is expanding operating capacity while managing down costs. Organizations that can successfully utilize their technical capabilities and continuously improve operating processes will establish themselves as the market leaders in the expanding retail landscape. These critical areas of focus are divided across the technology, operations and business process competencies.
Billing System – expanding or implementing a billing system that is able to serve multiple markets enables a common set of support, maintenance and change management processes.
Program Management – managing change and having a governance structure in place to prioritize and implement changes from all stakeholders ensure that the most critical projects for the organization’s strategy move to the top of the list.
Exception Processing – gathering data on billing exceptions and call drivers allows for root cause analysis to identify problems and trends before they become escalations and complaints.
Transaction and Data Management – being prepared to manage multiple data streams required by different markets, and the convergence of smart meter technologies, allows the business to become a market leader and lower transaction processing costs.
Business Process Focus
Consistent and Extendable Processes – implementing a common set of business processes across functions creates an environment where the billing, pricing, contract management, wholesale, and customer care teams can communicate and operate efficiently across markets.
Customer Care Enablement – enabling the front line customer service representative with the data and authority to answer questions, resolve issues, and work with the customer on their problems both reduces overall costs and improves customer retention.
Focusing on these three areas and applying the resources required to extend these capabilities, is critical to being an industry leader. Transparency in data movement and decision making across the value chain enables the customer orientation that drives growth. Efficiency in supporting systems and operating processes ensures that customers can be served at an effective cost. The coupling of these efforts will yield the realization of a cost effective growth strategy that is desired in today’s competitive utility landscape.