Thursday, August 8, 2013

Non-Revenue Water Reduction: The challenge continues to persist

Non-Revenue Water (NRW) – technical as well as commercial losses – is still perceived as a technology problem. Though asset and network rehabilitation form a substantial remedy, the approach does not take in to account the softer aspect of engaging rightly with Utility Consumers as well as its own employees.

The NRW component, we believe, can be curbed substantially, if the utility engages with the other stakeholders – customers and employees - through education and empowerment. Customer and employee engagement also brings out the tacit knowledge from the field, which acts as a feedback mechanism for the Utility. The approach also includes conducting analysis of internal customer-facing business processes, and resolving the bottlenecks hampering service delivery standards.

The table given below lists some of the interesting engagements we have shared with our clients. the rationale behind it and the methodology we adopted:

Customer perceptions tracked and studied gives strategic action items for utility plan its customer outreach programs. Customer Sensitization and talent development for Utility staff goes on to change the culture from monopolistic commodity trading to customer service provider
· Customer Opinion Preference Satisfaction (COPS) Studies offers an insight into the customer preferences and probable causes of forced behaviours
· Process Level Customer Satisfaction (PL-CSat) deployed rightly screens each of the customer satisfaction over each of the processes which act as customer touch points for utility
· Feet-on-Street (FOS) teams – like meter readers, bill distributors, plumbers, etc. – go a long way in identifying the tacit knowledge about the local systems
· Audits of customer facing processes – Collection Centres, Call Centres, Zonal Offices, etc. – provide the much missing customer perception of utility processes
· Willingness-To-Pay (WTP) studies create a sense of revenue assurance for investors and creditors alike, thereby, create baseline for financial projections of private utilities
Key issues in poor billing efficiency and collection efficiency arise due to lack of right internal processes implementation
· Process Level Audits for Meter Reading, Data Transfer Quality Monitoring and Bill Distribution bring out missing links in the billing efficiency
· Localization – eg. option of bilingual bill generation – builds the customer connect
Utility engaging with focus groups plays a vital role in customer engagement and education
· Ensuring right engagement media for consumer education and engagement
· Creating right social media handles to take utility marketing to next levels

For a deeper dive-in, refer to our previous blog on Efficient Billing & Collection Processes as key to driving NRW reduction.

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