• June 2, 2003
  • By David Myron, Editorial Director, CRM and Speech Technology magazines and SmartCustomerService.com

CRM in Action: Creating Cost Savings

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The Challenge: Streamline billing to improve services The Solution: In the summer of 2001 the city of Dallas already had a working bill-pay structure in place for its water utility services. It was a manual system like most cities where citizens would mail in their water utility services checks, which would then be processed and deposited by city employees. However, city decision-makers wanted something better and risked an investment on an unproven automated online bill-paying system. Although Dan McFarland, the city's CIO, had not seen any other government utility group move to an online self-service solution, the benefits could not have been clearer to him. "The more things we have done electronically, the less we have to do manually," he says. After reviewing five bids from consulting firms, in the fall of the same year, the city of Dallas selected BearingPoint. "We liked BearingPoint for its reputation and financial stability," McFarland says. It also helped that BearingPoint at the time had also been working with www.TexasOnline.com, the state's public and private Web portal for citizens, of which www.dallascityhall.com is a component. At BearingPoint's suggestion, the city of Dallas implemented edocs' eaDirect online self-service and e-billing solution, and by March 2002 the city's online bill-paying solution was humming.
The Payoff: Although the city does not have hard return on investment numbers, the edocs software helped to streamline information delivery, to improve cash flow, and to provide measurable conveniences for end users by moving traditional paper-based processes to the Web. Without any marketing campaigns the city has already processed about 50,000 bills using the edocs solution, which amounts to more than $3.7 million in bills processed online in one year, according to McFarland. Only 5 percent of water utility bills are paid online in Dallas, but McFarland expects that number to grow to roughly 30 percent within two years, after budgets free up and he can advertise the e-billing solution to citizens.
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