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Neil Clitheroe

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Effects of new billing system 25/06/2015

The implementation of the new billing system has undoubtedly caused problems for some of our customers. Whilst the vast majority are experiencing better service, unfortunately some customers have had problems and we are really sorry for this. Delivering good customer service is everything to us, so I would like to use this first blog to explain why it happened, how we are putting it right and what benefits our customers will get from this investment.

So what happened? Well basically, we implemented a new billing system and moved 3.6 million customers from our old system, which had been in place for a number of years and had reached its limits, to our new system. This was a massive undertaking on a project that lasted close to 5 years. We selected the very best global technology partners, IBM, to implement this £200million SAP based system.

To paint a clearer picture: imagine moving 3.6m houses, brick by brick from one patch of land to another. Even using the best procedures, the crème de la crème of builders and upmost of care; some bricks just won’t sit the same in their new environment.

This is exactly what we experienced. We moved all of our customers’ data very precisely; but the new billing system has a different data structure with different underlying processes, resulting in some of our customers’ encountering issues.

The service statistics issued by 3rd party consumer groups clearly show the extent of the problem we had at the end of last year and for the first few months of this year. We have done everything possible to put this right. We have increased our call handling staff by 700 and now have some of the best call answering times in the industry. We are resolving complaints quicker – we used to answer 50% of complaints within 14 days- now it is 85% in 14 days. Bill quality is better, meter read quality is better and customers are telling us we are improving. You will see these improvements starting to come through in these external reports - when they are issued towards the end of this year.

Unfortunately a small group of customers are still having problems – we are sorry about this - it is our fault and that is why we have committed that no customer will be left out of pocket from our mistakes. If you have a problem, contact us immediately and we will do everything we can to get it sorted quickly.

I suppose an obvious question is “why did we bother implementing a new system?” After all, ScottishPower’s customer service before the last year was one of the best in the industry. Why have we put our customers and ourselves through this pain?

Well the fact is our service before the new system was just “OK”. Customers still had many problems that we worked hard to fix quickly but it wasn’t great service. The root of this problem was that we had over 80 different systems, with different data and things went wrong between them. The new system fixes this – there is one system and one system only. No duplication of data, no duplication of processes – just one source.

Although we may be dealing with some problems, it’s safe to say that improvements are well underway. We already have some examples of great service being delivered today, especially on our website. Anything between 350,000 to half a million customers per week, service their account via our website. Customers can now change their monthly Direct Debit value if they want – we could not do this before. Customers can change their product with a couple of clicks – we could not do this before. Customers can view their bills instantly and see their consumption history instantly – we could not do this before. These are 3 simple examples and we are continuing to innovate with our service to make things better for our customers.

Whilst I’m frustrated that some of our customers are still having problems, I give you my word that we are doing all we can to fix them . Overall, I strongly believe our investment in this new system has and will be beneficial for all ScottishPower customers.