Evidence is growing that customer engagement is going to be a key defining feature of the utility of the future.
As customers become more digitally connected and energy savvy and take on a growing degree of energy independence with self-generation and potentially storage, the relationship with their utility is changing. They don’t feel as loyal towards their utility as in the past and with the ability to switch, this can be triggered with just one negative experience, such as a high bill. [Engerati-Why Digital Experience Is Boosting Customer Loyalty And Reducing Churn]
Conversely there is evidence that customers appreciate an improved relationship with their utilities and utilities that engage effectively with their customers are more trusted and the customers are more satisfied. [Engerati-Building Digital Trust Will Open Doors for Utilities]
With evidence such as this it is no surprise that the customer experience has been put at the heart of the utility transformation. [Engerati-From Utility To Energy Services] Whatever utility models ultimately result, customer facing utilities will require trusting and engaged customers to thrive.
Consumer engagement platform
In preparation for these market developments Ferranti Computer Systems has been readying its MECOMS billing and customer management solution.
One element of this activity is the release of MECOMS as a Service aimed at new entrants and small energy providers, initially in the UK, who want the benefits of a service offering. [Engerati-Enabling the UK energy revolution with software as a service]
Ferranti is also set to release in Q2 2016 a major new version 4 of the full MECOMS solution, in which customer engagement is a key feature.
“We have focused on aiming for a full 360-degree view of customers in order to make it easier and more efficient to engage with them,” Leslie De Cuyper, MECOMS Product Manager, told Engerati. “This is achieved with both back and front office perspectives. For example, it is about tracking customers on social and combining with what they are saying with all other information available to drive the customer relationship. If a customer is online it is about first call resolution by ensuring the employee has a view of all the data necessary to resolve the queries and with the least amount of clicks. It is about 24/7 availability so that if the back office goes down the front office can continue to interact.”
MECOMS has been implemented at water, gas, electricity and district heating companies primarily in Europe and Asia Pacific. It has evolved as a flexible modular ‘out of the box’ solution for meter data management, billing and customer management, enterprise asset management, performance management and interaction management via a common core data model and architecture.
Microsoft Dynamics CRM
Mr De Cuyper explains that the advancements in version 4 have been achieved with the integration of ‘best of breed solutions’, including the Microsoft Dynamics CRM.
“We have leveraged the full extent of the MECOMS back-end to ensure we have a real 360-degree of view of customers with dashboards and optimized processes to make the engagement process as fluid as possible. Tools such as social engagement, FAQ functionality and built-in telephone integration are all available as features out of the box.”
MECOMS at GEN-I
MECOMS is operational at the Slovenia-based GEN-I group, which supplies electricity and gas in central and southeastern Europe.
In implementing the solution GEN-I wanted to conduct a complete overhaul of all the IT solutions that were in use to provide support to energy sales to customers in all segments and markets where the company operates. In particular GEN-I also aimed to gain new customers by being the first independent supplier offering better service and tailor-made products at competitive prices.
“During the selection process for a new back-office platform we considered a wide array of functionalities and features that it should address,” says Andrej Šajn, Director of IT and Operations and a member of the Management Board at GEN-I. “Among the highest ranking ones were the ability to integrate with the ERP solution in order to support the complete meter-to-cash process, ability to handle larger volumes of different types of customers (B2B and B2C) and commodities, and flexibility in terms of being able to integrate with specific market messaging interfaces developed in-house. User friendliness and the use of Office-style user interfaces also played a significant role.”
Mr Šajn says that these features have been found to be of great benefit and MECOMS has become the de facto standard solution for back-office operations for the entire GEN-I group. “We are moving towards the end of B2B customer migration into MECOMS and all that remains to do is to include the really complex B2B products handling thus achieving the final goal of having the complete landscape of our customers and products handled through single platform. The next steps for 2016 and onwards are gradually bringing on-board the other companies within GEN-I group to the platform achieving maximum synergies in data handling and process support.”