Case Study

Utility Call Center Implementation

Client Background and Overview

This large-sized utility, servicing 150,000 customers, was facing significant challenges with their billing system and numerous customer service complaints. Recognizing the need for a significant change in their technology and mode of operation, they approached Turnkey Solutions to assist them in finding the right vendors and implementing the right solution to solve their issues.

  • Outdated billing system.
  • Customer payments could only be collected in person or via the mail.
  • Call center reporting was not comprehensive enough to fully help the client fully understand areas where improvement was needed.
  • Cumbersome processes that were not customer friendly.
  • Processes were not standardized or documented.
  • Client needed to find an optimum technology solution to resolve all challenges.
  • Client needed to provide change management and ensure staff acceptance of new technology and processes.
  • Midway through the project, the main location of the call center had to move to another building, and new call center technology had to quickly be procured and implemented to accommodate the move.
  • Client was moving from a manual meter reading system to an automated meter reading (AMR) system, so there were significant changes in the mode of operation and problem resolution.
  • Lack of adequate communication and understanding between leadership and employees.
  • Call center employees were not trusted to handle certain customer billing issues due to a lack of understanding of organizational goals.
  • Business units operated in silos and did not communicate changes in processes with each other.

The client used Turnkey Solutions’ consultation services to develop their request for proposal, including the vendor evaluation methodology for the new billing system and automated meter reading (AMR). Turnkey assisted in the selection process by facilitating meetings and interviewing perspective vendors for the client. Once the vendors were on board, Turnkey Solutions provided specialized program management assistance, process mapping, training, and change management services.

In the midst of the project, it was determined that the project location and all technology would have to move to another building, and the client did not want to jeopardize the go-live date. Turnkey Solutions was asked to quickly implement brand-new call center technology in the new building. In conjunction with the move, Turnkey recommended and helped the client implement a new interactive voice response (IVR) solution that collected customer payments via phone. Turnkey Solutions also used its call center technology expertise to show the client how to implement a coding system for call types that allowed them to extract data regarding the types of customer calls that generated the greatest volume.

A new telephone system and IVR were installed in record time, and the deadline for the entire project was kept intact. To ensure there would be no service interruption, Turnkey Solutions created a Business Continuity Plan based on company best practices, allowing the client to roll back to their original systems in the event of any major glitches at go-live.

Turnkey Solutions conducted training for employees and management to communicate goals and challenges clearly. Processes were documented and standardized. All employees across business units were trained on goals and processes and how those processes applied to their role in the organization and impacted the organization as a whole. Intra-Business Unit Focus Group Meetings were held for personnel across business units to communicate process issues and hand-offs and agree on the most efficient methodology to deliver service.

  • System implementation was amazingly smooth across all systems.
  • The project came in on time and under budget.
  • Customer service complaints were significantly reduced.
  • Business processes for the new call center were streamlined to accommodate new technology and the new environment.
  • New IVR implementation allowed for collection of $6,000,000+ per month in customer payments via the telephone.
  • Client was able to reduce required resources for meter reading by 86%. This included resources for personnel, vehicles, and equipment.
  • Efficiency was additionally impacted throughout the organization, as meter reading personnel resources were redeployed to other areas.
  • Employees took ownership of the processes, and the client discovered new and more efficient ways to do business through better communication between business units, management, and employees.
  • Call center employees were empowered to provide customers a full scope of billing services, were more satisfied with their position, and created more satisfied customers.
  • Customers were serviced more efficiently, and calls decreased significantly due to a one-call resolution approach.
  • Customer service business processes and procedures were standardized and documented. All customer-facing personnel were trained on the processes and approach so that clients received consistent answers and service.