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Billing, customer care key for utilities

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Research among competitive energy retailers shows that 70% see their billing and customer care solutions and operations as key enablers for their business strategies.
Suppliers identify a wide range of business benefits from an efficient billing operation, including positive impacts on customer satisfaction, customer loyalty, competitiveness and profitability.
These are among the key findings of Quindi Research’s new analyst report entitled “New Directions in Energy Retail: Billing & CIS for Competitive Edge”. The report surveyed energy retailers in competitive markets worldwide to understand the challenges they face, how they are evolving their business models, and the strategic impact of their billing and CIS operations.
“Understandably, the business benefit that energy retailers most value is accurate billing,” says Catherine Viola, the report’s author. “This finding reflects the fundamental importance of getting bills right the first time for maintaining customer satisfaction, as well as for minimising inbound billing enquiries and keeping down customer service costs.” In the survey, 80% of respondents agreed that billing has a high impact on customer satisfaction.
The survey also identified demand for billing and CIS solutions that can help suppliers streamline and automate their customer-related processes.
“Faced with stiff price competition and eroding margins, taking out cost by automating the main customer processes and enabling consumers to self-serve across multiple channels is essential,” says Viola. “Good customer self-service capabilities can also enhance customer satisfaction, which in turn influences customer acquisition and loyalty.”
Another key finding is that energy retailers are looking for billing solutions that can flexibly respond to their changing needs. Flexible solutions can help suppliers easily configure new tariffs and service plans, adjust service parameters, and introduce non-commodity value-added services, as they strive to keep their value propositions fresh and competitive.
In the survey, many suppliers rated solutions flexibility as an essential criterion when selecting a new billing and customer care system and vendor.
The report evaluates a range of CIS solutions that target competitive energy retailers. “Our vendor assessment confirms SAP and Oracle as the market leaders,” says Viola. “Among the contenders, we see LogNet Billing, Junifer Systems and Tieto as having especially strong offerings for this segment. Each of these companies stood out for their focus on the specific needs of competitive service providers.”