• March 17, 2003
  • By David Myron, Editorial Director, CRM and Speech Technology magazines and SmartCustomerService.com

Quenching the Thirst for New Business

SAP has some new liquid assets: water utility customers. The company today announced that Fairfax County Water Authority, in Virginia, and the San Antonio Water System, in Texas, selected mySAP Utilities to improve customer service and information sharing capabilities. SAP, which has competed in the utilities space since 1988 and has approximately 15 water utility customers in the United States, announced the new customers at the American Water Works Association Customer Service Conference and Exposition, being held this week in Denver. "From our perspective it's an incredible win, because the San Antonio Water Systems [SAWS] joins other municipal organizations in Texas, such as the City of San Antonio and Bexar County, that are implementing SAP's e-government solutions," says Monica Grilliot, platinum solutions engineer. SAWS selected mySAP Utilities to support business functions like financial reporting, human resources management, inventory management, and purchasing transactions. The system will enable SAWS personnel to instantly share information across the company, from customer accounts to work orders to equipment and materials availability. SAP customer Fairfax County Water Authority will use the customer care and service (CCS) capability of mySAP Utilities for integrated customer billing, credit, tracking, and collections functions. The SAP CIS will enable the water authority to provide its retail customers with real-time customer data--a capability that is unavailable with its existing system. While SAP announces customer wins, Orcom, an outsourcer of customer information systems (CIS) and billing services, has made available its first hosted service for water utilities that will enable water companies to save up to 30 percent in processing costs. The service is called E-CIS Blue, which has already been piloted by the District of Columbia's Water and Sewer Authority. Orcom, a 27-year veteran of the utilities industry, maintains that E-CIS Blue is optimized for the water utility industry. "We already have service orders built around things like leaks and maintenance related to water infrastructure, which is very different than with gas and electricity," says Julie Hance, senior director of service and application management at Orcom. Truckee Meadows Water Authority (TMWA) has already piloted the solution. "In only eight months, we were able to execute a flawless go live with E-CIS Blue. Today we've experienced significant improvements in the quality of our customer care and collections operations," Kim Mazeres, director of customer relations at TMWA, said in a prepared statement. Specifically designed for continuous improvement, E-CIS Blue enables water clients to free up cash and in some instances, uncover new revenue streams through business process improvement. "In less than one year we've generated hundreds of thousands of dollars in new cash as a result of improving our billing processes using E-CIS Blue," Mazeres said. Some of the benefits of the hosted solution are tailored billing options and personalized customer contact services; cost recovery measures for Environmental Protection Agency requirements; managed credit-risk scoring and collections; and automated service order management. Additional capabilities include credit and collections services, a single-view digital dashboard for customer service representatives, service order management, and meter management.
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