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Date : 08/15/2008

South East Water chooses Eptica to manage online customer service and meet industry regulations

Eptica delivers improved online customer service and manages five fold increase in in-bound emails at South East Waters’ new in-house contact centre

South East Water has successfully completed the first phase of an online customer service programme with Eptica www.eptica.com. The Eptica Email Management® implementation will ensure that the five-fold increase in in-bound customer email enquiries is efficiently managed and routed to appropriate agents. Eptica will give South East Water complete visibility to agent activity and provide customers with improved levels of service by means of speedier and more proficient responses. Investing in Eptica has already enabled South East water to meet industry standard response times* and increased agent productivity levels by 9.7%

South East Water has 2.1 million customers in the South East of England, supplying over 565 million litres of drinking water per day. The company currently manages customer service operations through an outsourced contact centre which employs 100 FTEs. In February 2006, South East Water issued new billing literature to customers which featured a customer service email address prominently on the front of customer bills. In-bound email traffic rose from approximately 80 enquiries per week to 80 per day. South East Water now deals with approximately 28,000 in-bound emails each year.

Dr Howard Handley, Head of Customer Services, South East Water commented: “Our previous system for managing email only allowed one employee to log in at any one time. As we were only processing approximately 80 to 100 in-bound email enquiries each week, this was suitable for our needs at that time”. He continued: “When this figure suddenly escalated it became immediately clear that the system would not be able to cope. It would also be impossible for us to sustain our Ofwat response targets.”

South East Water selected Eptica Email Management based on its proven capabilities to standardise customer service levels company-wide, saving agent time with auto response templates and providing the company with automated reporting facilities and complete visibility. The deployment of phase 1 of the project was speedy due to the hosted ASP version of Eptica which South East Water selected.

At South East Water emails are now dealt with quickly and efficiently. Branding and messaging are consistent and emails are sent out in HTML format with embedded unique customer reference numbers for tracking. Twenty-six templates, created by managers, are in use and these can be added to and improved upon, at any stage. Managers can now see, at the touch of a button, average response times and individual performance statistics. Reporting can also be performed against the number of emails delivered, answered and waiting and also by category, for example, complaints, change of occupier etc. Pass-to rates, customer history, age and number of outstanding contacts can also be viewed.

Dr Handley noted: “The most significant benefits we have seen to date have been the visibility to all customer emails. We now have much better categorisation of enquiries, which allows us to respond to the customer more efficiently. Being able to report on activity and know that we are meeting regulatory standards is invaluable to us.” He finishes: “With Eptica, we are now working towards reducing the time to respond to customers even further.”

South East Water has to date, implemented Eptica Email Management for use with South East Water's customer base, prior to the merger with Mid Kent Water, this involves approximately 1.4 million customers. There are currently 10 agents using Eptica in the South East Water correspondence team. The remaining customers will be included during phase two of the project, which involves bringing the contact centre in house. This will bring the total Eptica user licenses to 20.

Paul Barnes, Managing Director Eptica UK and Ireland concluded: "Delivering excellent customer service in the utility sector is increasingly challenging and the recent shift to online channels is a major factor within this. South East Water has embraced this issue and we look forward to working with them to deliver significant benefits to both their customers and their business.”

*Ofwat Customer Charter states: Reply to 95% of written enquiries (letters and emails) within 10 working days, unless a question is particularly complicated. Complaints, disputes and appeals - respond to 80% enquiries within 10 working days.

Source and for further information visit: www.ofwat.gov.uk

About Eptica

Eptica is the leading European provider of multi-channel customer interaction software and is ranked on the 2007 Deloitte Technology Fast 500 EMEA.

Thanks to its in-house or on-demand SaaS solutions, Eptica allows more than 200 companies to deliver consistent, managed service across all channels (web, email, chat, fax, letter and SMS). These web based applications enable dramatically improved customer experience and business effectiveness. Eptica has many clients, including: Fnac (FR), La Redoute (FR & UK), Crédit Agricole (FR), Maaf (FR), Insee (FR), Transport For London (UK), Edition Atlas (Switzerland), Hotels.com (UK & Spain), Verbaudet (FR & Germany), Skynet (BE), Proxi (BE), etc.

Eptica has offices in the UK and France and operates worldwide through its network of partners. For more information please visit: www.eptica.com.

For Eptica press information, contact:
jd marketing
Kate Smyth
kates@jdmarketing.co.uk
T:+ 44(0) 20 8297 5388
Eptica:
Clare McRobbie
mcrobbie@eptica.com
+44 (0)118 949 7072