REDWOOD SHORES, CA–Transitioning from a 20-year-old, homegrown customer information system to one that is more modern and comprehensive allows utilities to improve customer service, enhance financial performance, and adapt to a changing industry. Making this upgrade is no small endeavor, but Avista Utilities — which provides energy services and electricity to 362,000 customers and natural gas to 323,000 customers in Washington, Idaho, and Oregon — successfully made the transition by implementing Oracle Utilities Customer Care and Billing.
Avista’s successful launch of Oracle Utilities Customer Care and Billing, which included a well-planned training schedule, allowed customer service representatives to maintain grade-of-service targets as well as sustain their overall customer satisfaction rating during the 2015 go live. Avista’s representatives feel confident navigating within the Oracle Utilities system to find consumer account information and answer questions.
“We knew we needed to create awareness throughout the company about the major project that would replace our legacy customer information system. To foster awareness for the work that would have an enterprisewide impact, employees named the technology replacement Project Compass, as it would help guide us forward,” said Vicki Weber, director of customer strategic projects, Avista. “We selected Oracle Utilities Customer Care and Billing because it is a utility-friendly system that supports Avista’s future, strengthens the customer experience, and increases operating efficiencies while providing new opportunities to build on our excellent customer service reputation.”
To ensure that Oracle Utilities Customer Care and Billing was the right technology for its business, Avista started by benchmarking the industry to identify what worked well for other similar organizations. Avista also identified training as one of its top goals so employees would understand and embrace the system and be able to successfully serve customers on day one.
Avista achieved this goal by using a blended program of web-based courses, classroom training, self-directed system practice, and planned activities. It also provided more than 27,000 hours of Oracle Utilities Customer Care and Billing training to more than 300 employees in customer service and other departments.
“Oracle Utilities Customer Care and Billing handles every aspect of the customer lifecycle — from service connection, meter reading, rating, billing, payments processing, and collections to field work,” said Rodger Smith, senior vice president and general manager, Oracle Utilities. “This solution helped Avista upgrade its customer information system, ensuring that the utility can continue to deliver exceptional customer service with fully integrated systems.”