How American Water improved customer service during and after a new system implementation with Basis Technologies
Embracing change with confidence
Founded in 1886 and headquartered in New Jersey, American Water is one of the largest and most prominent water providers in the country. Through its subsidiaries, the firm provides high-quality water and wastewater services to over 15 million people in more than 45 states, as well as parts of Canada. They are committed to ensuring reliable and sustainable water services, investing in infrastructure, and implementing innovative technologies to address water quality and conservation challenges.
Improving customer service with Basis Technologies
American Water wanted to deploy a new SAP system that would improve operational efficiency across the organisation. However, American Water was aware of the challenges companies experience when deploying similar system implementations and were keen to avoid the usual dip in productivity. To avoid issues and retain revenue, American Water opted for a customer-centric approach with one easy-to-use holistic view of all exceptions and transactions, which resulted in a seamless transition to the new system and improved customer satisfaction across the organisation.
American Water receives over five million calls, generates over five million invoices and handles over 400,000 pieces of incoming correspondence annually. Improving operational efficiency and optimising processes is therefore a top priority to ensure exceptions are handled appropriately and late billing is minimised.
To focus on this broader business goal, the technical team at American Water decided to deploy an integrated SAP solution. However, the team were aware that such a deployment can often cause increased resolution times for handling customer issues, which causes a backlog of exceptions and consequently late billing issues.
As more customers call, the exception backlog gets larger, which can soon fall into a perpetual, unsustainable cycle. This cycle ends up making customer satisfaction and on-time billing worse when the original goal was to improve it. With the amount of calls and invoices handled by American Water, they could see how, if not managed properly, this would spiral out of control.
American Water needed a holistic view of all exception activity and billing issues throughout the deployment and beyond.
American Water implemented Basis Technologies’ BDEx solution, designed for utilities companies, to gain an easy-to-use holistic view of all exceptions and transactions. This customer-centric approach would equip CSRs with visibility into exception management actions to empower them to resolve issues in the first instance, as opposed to handing problems to back office teams.
It would also automate the assignment of cases which drastically reduces the time it takes to manage exceptions and customer calls.
By implementing the solution, American Water would be able to deploy the new product without fear of customer satisfaction declining, hitting their original objective of improving operational efficiency as opposed to making it worse.
The results for American Water went far beyond support during the deployment. The firm is now able to more effectively resolve exceptions that lead to billing delays within a shorter time frame.
On average, 6,000 billing-related exceptions are now resolved on a daily basis, allowing for associated invoices to be released within three days of a meter reading, with 98% of customer billing issues within 24 hours of a meter reading.
BDEx has enabled American Water to deliver a much higher level of customer service, with front-line representatives able to resolve issues at first contact.
CSRs are now able to proactively resolve consecutively estimated billing, provide the status and expected resolution time of a customer billing issue, and understand and respond to high bill enquiries with confidence.
The front office are empowered to resolve customer queries themselves, while the back office are able to focus their time on strategic business goals.
American Water is also benefiting from productivity reports tracing the work of back office agents, status reports on the total number and type of exception cases that have occurred within a given period, and trending exception activity, to enable them to conduct a root cause analysis.
The results of implementing BDEx has directly affected the level of service delivered to customers and ultimately the bottom line. Employees report a high degree of satisfaction in using BDEx and have quickly realized the value it provides.
Overall, BDEx has transformed how American Water manages customer service and exception management, improving overall operational efficiency and hitting key business goals. It has successfully turned customer service into a strategic business enabler and competitive differentiator.