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A new chapter for water billing

From the Knowledge Centre

Published August 23rd 2018 in Billing & Customer Information Software by Andy Mack

Echo's Software Services Director Andy Mack pops by to share his views on the need for a new chapter for water customer billing...

As consumers, change is all around us. Be it emerging technologies enabling us to work or live smarter, more choice in what we choose to purchase and how we consume products and services, or simply changes in our own expectations when it comes to how we go about our daily lives.

For service providers, change brings great opportunity and also considerable risk. Keeping ahead of ever changing customer expectations can be a constant challenge, alongside the need to seek out new ideas and technologies to stay one step ahead of the competition.

Whilst the non-household sector has already become more immersed in this competitive world following retail market opening, as PR19 draws closer, it’s clear we’re on the cusp of a sea-change of innovation in the household sector too, as Ofwat calls on water companies to deliver better service for customers. This is enthusing for all, and I’d concur with recently-departed Ofwat CEO Cathryn Ross when she said “I genuinely think that there is a sense of confidence, openness to change and new ways of doing things across the sector right now that is really exciting”*

In these times of unprecedented change one thing is clear, to continuously innovate and deliver more, water companies must become more dynamic and agile; not through responding swiftly to change, but by driving a forward-thinking change agenda that formulates true innovation and new ideas. This not only requires curiosity and the right people, but also the right technologies – solutions that enable and not hinder change.

Customer billing, a time for change
At the heart of every water company’s contact centre operation is its billing and CRM platform; the key to delivering accurate and reliable customer bills, and the lynchpin to providing helpful customer service, and getting things right first time. Choosing a billing and CRM platform is a fundamental decision for any company, one that requires a significant commitment in terms of cost, time and resource.

And, whilst at the outset a chosen solution may more than meet current billing needs, it’s never been more important to future-proof systems to remain competitive and innovative. Today, it’s fair to say that water companies remain considerably reliant on their software providers to modify systems as landscapes change.

At a time when consumer markets are changing faster than ever, this simply isn’t a robust model for the years ahead, and that’s why here at Echo, we’ve been busy developing a new breed of billing platform; one that will – for the first time – enable water providers to truly stay one step ahead of changing customer expectations, evolving business models and competitor strategies.

A billing platform for the future
Echo’s new billing platform, Aptumo, is built from the ground up for a fresh era of endless possibilities. Be it the need for competitive agility, the desire to join a modern multi-utility world or simply meeting the customer’s yearning for a tailored, personalised service; unrivalled system flexibility enables billing processes to become as unique as each and every customer.

Built on the Salesforce Platform, Aptumo opens the gateway to a world of technology and innovation. Utility companies can choose from a myriad of more than 5,000 exciting and inventive apps* from the Salesforce AppExchange© - the world’s leading enterprise cloud marketplace - that complement and enhance customer billing; all available as ‘plug and play’ without the need for lengthy software provider led integration programmes.

With over 5 million customer installs to date*, and new apps being continually developed, there exists a real opportunity for utility companies to transform from a ‘led by change’ ethos to being one step ahead of a fast evolving consumer landscape.

Of course to be truly agile, utility companies must hold their destiny in their own hands; this means being empowered to configure software solutions to match needs at a pace that suits. With Aptumo, this becomes a reality; clients can choose to customise their own enhancements, processes and triggers however and whenever they wish to do so – all with 24/7 support from a highly experienced team if desired. Naturally, Aptumo also includes as standard, out of the box APIs for fast integration to third party solutions.

Perhaps most importantly, Aptumo empowers utility companies to seize opportunities to deliver what really matters to each and every customer. Processes and triggers can be instantly customised based on customer data and behaviour to drive a truly personalised and tailored service to suit an individual customer, taking customer segmentation to a whole new level.

And, as a SaaS, cloud-based platform, Aptumo is a cost-effective, secure and scalable solution for all – small or large - that is quick to deploy.

Moving forward with momentum
As the sector continues to evolve, customer expectations continue to rise and new technologies drive more change, the time for fresh-thinking when it comes to the fundamental requirement of water and sewerage billing is now. Water companies will increasingly add value through partners that can innovate alongside them, and for them - working in partnership to move forward with momentum.

Aptumo isn’t simply fresh-thinking, it’s pioneering and is finally opening the door to the art of what’s truly possible.

Andy.

* Cathryn Ross speaking notes Future of Utilities – Water 2017, 21 November 2017
* Salesforce 2018 Annual Report
* Salesforce 2018 Annual Report

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