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‘One stop shop’ improves service for a million utility customers in the UAE

‘One stop shop’ improves service for a million utility customers in the UAE

The Water and Electricity Authority of the Abu Dhabi Government has implemented iSON’s Customer Care and Billing solution

How does a UAE utility company with a million consumers use Information Technology to improve its customer service? The Water and Electricity Authority of the Abu Dhabi Government decided to implement iSON’s Customer Care and Billing solution with an intuitive Arabic user-interface to execute a real-time system that creates a ‘one stop shop’ for customer services.

The Water and Electricity Authority of the Abu Dhabi Government operates as an independent utility company providing water and electricity services to around one million consumers through its two distribution companies in Al Ain and Abu Dhabi.

As two separate implementations were required, pre-implementation and post-implementation, support for company staff was required 24/7 across branches in the two regions – many of which were in remote villages. In addition, the solution implementation was desired in real-time without impacting service levels.

Both the distribution companies faced challenges to meet and iSON was selected as a partner to implement its Customer Care and Billing (CC&B) solution starting with training staff across the Al Ain and Abu Dhabi regions.

iSON addressed the business challenges faced by the client through implementing a centralised CC&B application including an Arabised version with industry standard business processes.

Various online and batch interfaces were developed with the satellite systems around the core CC&B allowing automated information exchange. The iSON data migration team also performed extensive data cleansing to improve its accuracy and deployed a localised user interface in the Arabic language.

The project team successfully completed final data migration in record time (two days) to ensure business continuity and the continuation of daily operations; followed by a large-scale data migration exercise including 49 million Full Table Scans (FTs) including bills, payments and adjustments.

The modules implemented during the 17- month project included: Customer information; premise management; meter asset management; field work and meter reading.

A survey of the business revealed the growing customer service requirements such as compliance with Regulatory Service Bureau standards to follow industry best practices for providing an on-time and efficient customer service and setting up a 24/7 call centre facility to serve customers with the right information at the right time.

Several applications interfacing with external systems such as banks, Emirates National ID, and Government sites were successfully implemented to manage customer services efficiently.

All these applications were developed using the latest technologies on .Net and Sharepoint with supporting back-end technology components from the Oracle Corporation.

A state-of-the-art 24/7 call centre was set-up with access to online ‘360 degree’ customer data, facilitating service centre staff to effectively communicate with customers with the very latest information.

The call centre staff were able to provide the right information to their customers and resolve their queries on time over a phone in the majority of cases.

A highly featured debt management process was set-up to effectively manage defaulting customers’ overdue bills and keep customers well informed about the overdue payments through multiple communication channels like letters, emails and SMS etc.

Appropriate reports were developed on collection management to keep managers informed about the collection status and outstanding debt, based on different customer categories.

All these resulted in improving the collection process by introducing an effective collection management system and thereby reducing the outstanding debt from the subscribers to the minimum.

Required interfaces were also developed to share data seamlessly across systems with necessary security and validations. This helped the business in reducing the manual intervention and interrogation of data and there by achieving improved data quality and reliability.

Several online payment channels were opened to the customers to facilitate payments at a convenient time of day. Customers were given options to make online payments via portals, banks, kiosks and other government web sites. The CC& B Solution was integrated with external applications for both the distribution companies.

Benefits

The system successfully implemented the first Arabised version of a Customer Care and Billing System in the region – with the Arabisation of all fields and labels.

The change management process was also successfully managed. Cohesion between processes was improved and processing time for customer services reduced. The management of customer services was also operated more efficiently.

The set-up of 20 bill cycles and accounts were operationally divided into different bill cycles, resulting in a proper and balanced distribution of work load in terms of meter reading, generating, printing and dispatch of bills

The system created a significant increase in revenue as the billing system was able to generate and dispatch bills for all utility customers on time.

The work done by the field operations staff was greatly benefited by the distribution of the metre read routes and aligning them with bill cycles to ensure that bills are produced with correct readings and bill amounts. This contributed to significant improvements in terms of customer satisfaction and operational efficiency.

As a result of the system there has been a reduced number of customer visits to the branches for basic services because of the state-of the-art 24/7 call centre and enhanced customer service and business operations – which has been termed a ‘One Stop Shop’ for customer services.

The system has been configured easily to meet unique needs, minimising customisations across 25 branches in Al Ain and Abu Dhabi regions and scaling from a few thousand customers to many millions.

It has enabled 1280 staff to deliver superior customer service through its 45 stores and supported prebuilt integrations in the Oracle Utilities suite.

The system also has an intuitive user interface and automated workflow and processes resulting in less time being taken from the billing process to bills being paid.