Business Impact Summary
The City generates approximately 183,000 service orders per year, which include move in/move out, delinquency turn on/turn off, complaints related to bills, and trouble tickets such as main breaks and leaks. The City's various departments, including 311 Customer Service, Utility Billing, Service Delivery, Meter Reading, and Collections, already utilize the Ventyx Customer Suite system to capture and respond to customer inquiries, generate utility bills, and produce short-cycle service orders.
In support of a citywide initiative to improve customer service, the City developed a strategy to improve its workforce efficiency in the field. The major drivers for this initiative were the need to improve the customer experience around service delivery, increase process efficiencies and minimize customer complaints related to service delivery. The objectives of this initiative included:
- Increasing operational efficiency through increased productivity and reduced costs
- Increasing customer satisfaction through timely and accurate information
- Increasing overall business efficiency through reduction of customer callbacks and duplicate field visits
In order to meet the customer service performance goals, the City partnered with Ventyx to automate the City’s service delivery business processes.
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The largest public water and wastewater utility in the Carolinas, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities serves more than 788,190 customers in the City of Charlotte and greater Mecklenburg County, including the towns of Matthews, Mint Hill, Pineville, Huntersville, Davidson, and Cornelius.
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The City is faced with many challenges that make it difficult to achieve its customer service performance goals. Chief among them is changing the myriad of manual business processes currently used to process short-cycle service orders. The extended time needed to schedule, distribute, work, and close the service orders manually costs the City money as well as prevents the City from meeting its customer satisfaction goals and objectives. For example, when responding to customer inquiries, the Billing Center Customer Service Representatives (CSRs) do not have any work-in-progress information to share with the customer. This lack of information results in more calls and duplicate service orders.
Specific challenges include:
- Manual business processes are paper intensive and require extended time to process.
- High level of customer callbacks result due to the extended time required to process manual service orders.
- No work-in-progress information is available to CSRs resulting in transfer of calls.
- Supervisors spend significant time organizing and distributing paper service orders.
- Some service orders get lost and never make it back to Customer Suite.
- Service technicians spend a significant amount of time in the office mapping their routes, resulting in a lower number of service orders being processed. They also lose valuable time waiting for paper service orders to be prepared and have to return early to deliver the paperwork, creating backlogs and negatively affecting employee morale.
The City sought a more efficient customer and field service approach and a cultural shift toward cross-departmental service processes. Because Ventyx business systems had been proven to deliver superior business results for industry peers, the City partnered with Ventyx to automate its service process.
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In order to meet the customer service performance goals, the City partnered with Ventyx to automate the City's service delivery business processes. The automation project was planned for two phases. The initial rollout included the automation of the high-volume delinquency cut-off and turn-on service orders for residential customers using Service Suite. The second phase of the project was designed to automate the remaining nine business processes, including service complaints, requests, and trouble service orders using the Service Suite mobile dispatch application.
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The City anticipates greater benefits and savings from the expansion of the initial pilot project to include the remaining customer-facing business processes. The new Service Suite provides additional functionalities, which are invaluable for managing service orders as well as communicating up-to-the-minute activities to customers. The new functionalities that the City uses to enhance operational efficiencies and customer service include:
- Automated dispatching of service orders – no need by the dispatchers and supervisors to print, organize, assign, and distribute service orders
- Optimized routing of the service orders – no need for the service technicians to spend time determining routes for service orders
- Automated assignment of service orders, assigning the right service order to the right technician – no more confusion and incorrect assignment of the service orders
- Real-time information update from Customer Suite to Service Suite, providing service technicians with up-to-the-minute information from customers – no more out-of-date information
- Real-time information update from Customer Suite to Service Suite, providing service order status information – no need for the CSR to call the dispatcher or the technician to get status of the service order
- Paperless environment – no more paper service orders being printed, organized, and distributed, saving ample time to process service orders in the field
- Automated closing of the service orders and complaints in CIS – no more delays in manual processing of the service orders, thus saving valuable time
The operational improvements are a direct result of reducing unnecessary field visits, decreasing manual service-order-processing activities, and reducing customer callbacks.
The value of efficiency improvements for the City includes:
- Reduction in manual processing of service orders: approximately $371,700
- Reduction in duplicate service orders: approximately $526,500
- Reduction in phone calls: approximately $108,000
- Reduction in distribution of service orders: approximately $54,000
- Total Projected Annual Value = $1,060,200
First leveraging Customer Suite, and later adding Service Suite, the City's new integrated utility management system encompasses Web-based customer information system, billing, 311 customer service center, and field service management capabilities.
With Customer Suite, City customers can better utilize the 311 call center for utility needs citywide and countywide. CSRs have access to all the information they need to answer the vast majority of questions from a single screen. The addition of Service Suite allows the City's approximately 183,000 service orders processed per year to be dispatched electronically to mobile devices.
The City's willingness to change its manual and paper-intensive delinquency business processes and utilize new technology has greatly improved the City's position to achieve its customer service performance targets. The expansion of the pilot project to include the entire customer-facing business processes is a true testament to the City's commitment and desire to improve its operational efficiency. With Service Suite, the City is well positioned to realize its anticipated efficiency gains and become a "best-in-class" service delivery organization.
The process-oriented service automation solution not only increased the overall effectiveness and efficiency of the City's employees, but also improved morale. "Employees are always happier when they know what they're doing is adding value to the organization," says Chip Harris, of the City's business systems division.
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