Articles & Case Studies

Bristol and Wessex Water’s Innovative Approach to Debt Collection

Posted: Friday 10th July 2009

Bristol Water and Wessex Water have for many years been at the forefront of customer service innovation in the water industry. Both enjoy an enviable track record of customer service and billing performance, which is managed through their joint venture Bristol and Wessex Billing Services Limited (BWBSL). When BWBSL decided to look for new ways to tackle the increasing problem of consumer debt, they naturally took an innovative and proactive approach.

As an existing client of Echo Managed Services, with Echo’s trusted RapidXtra customer care and billing system at the heart of its operation, BWBSL became interested in the potential of a new solution when, in 2008, Echo launched a unique proposition to help tackle the debt problem. Crucially, Echo’s Credit Intelligence™ predictive data modelling solution offered BWBSL the opportunity to deliver more from existing data and to reduce the reliance on external data sources. Having selected Credit Intelligence in June 2008, this means that BWBSL is now working towards reducing its spend on bureau data and debt collection agencies (DCAs).

BWBSL’ overriding objective is to improve debt collection practices and collection rates on overdue bills, whilst simultaneously enhancing the customer experience. As a condition, the new solution needed to be complementary to the existing teams and technology; this was not an outsourcing exercise, it needed to be non-threatening to BWBSL staff and to add value to the operation.

An important factor in BWBSL’s selection of Credit Intelligence was that no new software needed to be installed, no IT support was required and no new expertise or training was needed for existing staff. This meant that BWBSL was able to introduce a major new technology innovation, but without disruption to the operation and with only minimal time required from existing teams.

John Coppack, General Manager of BWBSL, explains “An important objective for BWBSL was to use Credit Intelligence to drive our data-driven approach to collections. In this way we hope to improve the debt position through more efficient collection, whilst also strengthening our understanding of customers and delivering better business control and performance visibility.” Credit Intelligence will help BWBSL to do this by using sophisticated behavioural and predictive analytics to embed a continuous cycle of optimisation.

The compatibility and sophistication of the solution was not all that attracted BWBSL to Credit Intelligence, Coppack also describes the exciting potential for collaboration that it offers “An important factor in our decision to use Credit Intelligence was the exciting potential of the solution itself. With BWBSL following Northern Ireland Water and South Staffs Water onto the Credit Intelligence programme this means that Bristol Water and Wessex Water will both be in a position to benefit from collaboration opportunities. We’re hoping we can work together on initiatives like exemplar group studies and trend analysis, ultimately, I think there’s also potential to produce a genuine model for industry best practice.”

The selection of Credit Intelligence has already enabled BWBSL to identify several customer segments and areas for process improvement, which could deliver a major uplift in collection performance. Even though it’s early days still in this project, the Credit Intelligence solution has quickly revealed an impressive level of management information and customer insight. Working with Echo over the next few months the aim for BWBSL is to reduce spend in other areas and to deliver a major enhancement to both the debt position and in the effectiveness of the management approach.

Tel: 07816 323804

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