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Strategic Interventions for a Customer-driven Distribution Utility

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
The Electricity Act has given way for introduction of competition in the retail markets in many forms– a licensee developing parallel distribution infrastructure in an area, customers having a choice in selection of their distributors under open access provisions etc. This in turn requires distribution utility processes to undergo major changes to evolve as a more customer friendly organisation. And the business model would also have to change from being an asset and engineering intensive business to a commercially driven customer oriented businesses which derive their value from their ability to attract and retain customers. In order to achieve tangible improvements in the customer service, it is essential to identify the typical steps that each customer will go through, which can be termed as customer life cycle management process. The process starts with a new customer seeking service. The next step is service provision, which includes the basic service of providing reliable and quality power at affordable tariffs to meet the demand, and the various ancillary services such as fault repairs, changes in connected load, connection shifting etc. along with the value added services such as cost reduction through DSM, energy audit services etc. For this a proactive approach by the utility is important.

The next part of lifecycle covers the charges for the services given and the collection of dues. This forms the most critical area of reforms and major

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Strategic Interventions for a Customer-driven Distribution Utility dissatisfaction arouses out of this reason. Any inefficiency in the billing and collection processes results in swift exit of customers. Relationships in electricity business, not being time bound; so it is necessarily required that instead of transactional relationship with the customers, the utilities focus on process approach such as • process reorientation towards customer satisfaction – identifying the “touch points” with customers. • simplified entry procedures – advance planning of networks to ease subscription to consumers • use of integrated IT & MIS in improving customer relationships – electronic presentation, payment and reminder of bills, billing and payment history, online resolution of simple bill disputes, online fault booking etc. • • value addition by providing ancillary services innovative and customer friendly measures – call centres, drop boxes at their convenience The project aims to bring forth such areas in which strategic actions when taken can lead a utility to empower its customers and thus enhance its own value

Customer Issues The concept of customer service is almost non-existent in most distribution companies. In fact, there is a lack of a formal organization construct, unlike say

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Strategic Interventions for a Customer-driven Distribution Utility the telecom industry, to address customer needs. This means that customers need to interact with multiple entities for any service request. The result is that customers frequently face long delays in resolving technical and commercial complaints, encounter uncooperative attitude of staff and need to make unofficial payments to resolve their issues. Major issues by which a customer is not satisfied with the service of utility are: • • • • • Poor availability and quality of power Multiple contact points Tedious processes and bribery Limited payment modes Poor customer service

A survey was done amongst domestic consumers to reveal the level of satisfaction they have from the distribution utility processes, procedures and service standards which revealed the following facts: • There is no provision to regularly monitor whether the time limits are adhered to or not in case of non conformance to standards. • • Reporting mechanisms are not strictly followed Analysis of the survey's results clearly reflected the dissatisfaction, and wide gap between expectations and services delivered.

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sales literature. time to connect new customers. scheduled outages. voltage complaints. billing and response to customers’ petitions. time to respond to customers’ requests and compliance to the service conditions. and  Guaranteed Standards. actual meter reading. management of voltage complaints. i. delay in providing new connections must be provided by the utility through any means like print advertising.Strategic Interventions for a Customer-driven Distribution Utility • To the consumer the two most important aspects that emerged were grievance handling and metering and billing. • All the distribution utilities must define Customer Service Standards consisting of:  Overall Standards. load shedding. public relations. and reconnection of supply in case of having 4 . the ability to restore supply after a failure of the distribution system. drawing the attention of the consumers. disconnection and reconnection of power supply. direct mail. • Distribution utilities in the state must arrange wider publicity to Complaint Handling Procedure. Based on the above observations.e. involving the supply quality. Procedures to be adopted for the complaints regarding interruption or failure of power supply. etc. following recommendations were made • Frequent interaction with the consumer forums must be done by the distribution utility to yield areas of customer dissatisfaction and to act upon such issues so as to increase overall effectiveness of the utility. utilities website. problems in metering and billing.

This system helps manage work at a company level. regular updates of mapping system so that all of the customer's account information is available when a customer calls in to 24-hour call center. • Customer Relationship management systems must be designed in such a way that employees get information about customers' accounts when they are out in the field meeting with customers. This system will automatically read meters so the utilities don't have to send their employees into the customers' homes and backyards. • Another area which needs improvement is metering systems. The utilities will have to compensate affected customers in case the guaranteed standards cannot be met. For the guaranteed standards. penalization in terms of fine can be established.Strategic Interventions for a Customer-driven Distribution Utility been disconnected. Automated meter reading will improve the quality of meter reading. Automated meter reading system or AMR must be introduced in phases. Thus. • There is a need to streamline the grievance redressal procedure. It gives a high-level view of workload and helps offices communicate effectively to ensure that the utility meets the customers' needs. • Work management system of the utility must be made effective. the process of grievance redressal is time consuming and cumbersome • Updation of customer information system with databases of customers. and provide customers with timely energy information. as a consumer usually has to approach to various levels within a utility. help the utilities gain operational efficiencies. 5 .

6 . • Creation of an on-line access for the larger customers to provide them with energy information tailored to their business environment can also be a way to enhance customer service. • Bill payment systems can be extended to forms like on-line payments.Strategic Interventions for a Customer-driven Distribution Utility • A step further in customer services area can be achieved by the utility by centralizing a number of their field functions. etc. payments directly from customers' bank accounts. This doesn’t mean closing field offices. or payment at pay stations. but rather shifting the emphasis from addressing walk-in customers' needs to more of an operationally focused field office.

Strategic Interventions for a Customer-driven Distribution Utility

INDEX
1. 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 2. Introduction Objective Significance of the Problem Review of the Literature Conceptualization Operationalisation of the Concept Focus of the study Limitations Research Methodology 2.1 Research Design 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. Universe and Survey Population Sample Size and Technique Data Collection Data Analysis Strategic Interventions for Distribution Utility Statistical Analysis Summary Recommendations Conclusion 22 23 24 25 27 28 48 56 57 60 1 5 6 8 13 14 20 21

Annexure-I Annexure- II Bibliography 7

Strategic Interventions for a Customer-driven Distribution Utility

1.

INTRODUCTION

The distribution system in India is often characterised by inefficiency, low productivity, frequent interruption in supply and poor voltage. Evidently, some fundamental changes are imperative in the working of the power sector entities to realise the vision of “reliable, affordable and quality power for all by 2012”. The reform process is in progress in several states under the overall guidance of MoP. It is aimed at bringing about sustainable improvements in the operations of the utilities and making them viable businesses. The reforms have brought about various improvements in operational structure, commercial orientation, transparency in operation and overall customer orientation in several states. However, there has been limited success in institutionalising these changes and sustaining these improvements over a period of time. Therefore, the need of the hour is to institutionalise the changes and bring about sustainable, pervasive improvements.

WHO IS A CUSTOMER ? A customer is the most important visitor in our premises. He is not dependent on us. We are dependent on him. He is not an interruption on our work. He is the purpose of it. He is not an outsider on our business. He is part of it. We are not doing him a favour by serving him. He is doing us a favour by giving us an opportunity to do so. -Mahatma Gandhi

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Strategic Interventions for a Customer-driven Distribution Utility

Most people in business serve three kinds of customers • Final customers- People who will use your product or service in daily life and, • you hope, will be delighted. They’re also known as end users. Intermediate customers- These are often distributors or dealers who make your products and services available to the final customer. • Internal customers- People within your organization who take your work after you’ve finished with it and carry out the next function on the way toward serving the intermediate and final customers. CUSTOMER DRIVEN ENTERPRISE A customer driven enterprise constantly challenges itself to answer four questions:

1. What are our customers’ needs and expectations, and which of these needs and expectations matter most to them? 2. How well are we meeting those needs and expectations? 3. How well are our competitors meeting them? 4. How can we go beyond the minimum that will satisfy our customers, to truly delight them? Ways to become a customer driven organisation Ask the customers how well you are currently serving them? Give them a chance to tell you

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companies often fail to learn their customers’ opinions about it. Because quality of service is hard to quantify. • where you’re succeeding The companies that do so consistently and act upon their findings reap massive benefits. But a good guide is a structure described in five dimensions which can be summarized with the acronym RATER: Reliability: the ability to provide what was promised. and the appearance of personnel Empathy: the degree of caring and individual attention provided to customers Responsiveness: the willingness to help customers and provide prompt service Customer driven organization means moving FROM TO 10 . • where you’re failing.Strategic Interventions for a Customer-driven Distribution Utility • what they want. dependably and accurately Assurance: the knowledge and courtesy of employees. and their ability to convey trust and confidence Tangibles: the physical facilities and equipment.

Strategic Interventions for a Customer-driven Distribution Utility motivation through fear and loyalty an attitude that says ‘it’s their problem’ ‘the way we’ve always done it’ motivation through shared vision ownership of every problem that affects the customer continuous improvement making decisions based on assumptions doing it with data and fact-based and judgment calls decisions everything begins and ends with management everything begins and ends with customers functional ‘stovepipes’ where department cross-functional cooperation base decisions solely on their own criteria being good at crisis management and recovery depending on heroics a choice between participative or scientific management doing it right the first time driving variability out of the process participative and scientific management Building a customer-driven organization involves focusing on some key dimensions like: • • • • • • Information Technology End-to-end processes Behaviour Resources Orgnanisation structure 11 .

only the customer orientation and service quality offered by the utility would decide the eventual winner.1 OBJECTIVE Since the passage of Electricity Act 2003.e. This project aims to bring forth customer service strategies to be undertaken by the distribution utilities (put forward as a result of survey conducted amongst domestic customers) so as to evolve successfully into a business where customer is the sole arbitrator of performance. the future of a successful electricity business would be based on “ownership of customer” rather than “ownership of assets”. 12 .Strategic Interventions for a Customer-driven Distribution Utility 1. developments in the power sector have gained momentum. In this new environment. i. The most important and the irreversible change is the shift from the monopoly business to the competition. with the utilities gearing up to transform through internal reforms and restructuring.

improper remittance handling measures. 13 .Strategic Interventions for a Customer-driven Distribution Utility 1. and the customer service and retention measures of the utility which will be of prime importance in near future of competitive electricity markets and these will help decide the utility’s future performance. power outages. etc. utilities need to focus on various areas leading to customer satisfaction because it is the customer base. billing and collection inefficiencies. There is an inherent gap in the customer expectations of the service and the service actually delivered to him (as depicted by the figure on next page).2 SIGNIFICANCE Customers in a distribution utility are faced with problems of quality and reliability of service. To bridge this gap.

Strategic Interventions for a Customer-driven Distribution Utility GAP Consumer Expectations Management Perceptions of Consumer Expectation Management Perceptions of Consumer Expectations Intended Level of Service Quality Intended Level of Service Quality Service quality level experienced by consumers Service quality level experienced by consumers What is communicated about the service to consumers Consumer expectations Consumer Perceptions of Service Delivery Principal Disparities Affecting Service Quality 14 .

may make a representation for the redressal of his grievance to an authority to be known as Ombudsman to be appointed or designated by the State Commission. whichever is earlier. the distribution licensee shall supply the electricity to such premises immediately after such 15 . (5) Every distribution licensee shall. within six months from the appointed date or date of grant of licence. (7) The Ombudsman shall settle the grievance of the consumer within such time and in such manner as may be specified by the State Commission. give supply of electricity to such premises.3 REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE Excerpts from the Electricity Act. 2003 The Act specifies certain obligations for the distribution licensee or the utility towards customers Duties of distribution licensee 42. (1) Every distribution licensee.Strategic Interventions for a Customer-driven Distribution Utility 1. on an application by the owner or occupier of any premises. shall. establish a forum for redressal of grievances of the consumers in accordance with the guidelines as may be specified by the State Commission. within one month after receipt of the application requiring such supply Provided that where such supply requires extension of distribution mains. or commissioning of new sub-stations. (6) Any consumer. who is aggrieved by non-redressal of his grievances under sub-section (5). Duty to supply on request 43.

specify standards of performance of a licensee or a class of licensees.Strategic Interventions for a Customer-driven Distribution Utility extension or commissioning or within such period as may be specified by the Appropriate Commission. (2) If a licensee fails to meet the standards specified under subsection (1). Consumer protection: Standards of performance 57. he shall be liable to a penalty which may extend to one thousand rupees for each day of default. restoration of supply of electricity. tampering. intervals for billing of electricity charges disconnection of supply of electricity for nonpayment thereof. (1) The Appropriate Commission may. altering or maintaining electric lines or electrical plant or meter. distress or damage to electrical plant. The State Commission shall specify an Electricity Supply Code to provide for recovery of electricity charges. without prejudice to any penalty which may be imposed or prosecution be initiated. The Electricity Supply Code 50. after consultation with the licensees and persons likely to be affected. electric linesor meter. he shall be liable to pay such compensation to 16 . entry for replacing. (3) If a distribution licensee fails to supply the electricity within the period specified in sub-section (1). entry of distribution licensee or any person acting on his behalf for disconnecting supply and removing the meter.

The Appropriate Commission may specify different standards under subsection (1) of section 57 for a class or classes of licensee. (2) The Appropriate Commission shall at least once in every year arrange for the publication. (1) Every licensee shall. within the period specified by the Appropriate Commission. 17 . (3) The compensation determined under sub-section (2) shall be paid by the concerned licensee within ninety days of such determination. (b) the number of cases in which compensation was made under subsection (2) of section 57 and the aggregate amount of the compensation.Strategic Interventions for a Customer-driven Distribution Utility the person affected as may be determined by the Appropriate Commission Provided that before determination of compensation. namely:(a) the level of performance achieved under sub-section (1) of the section 57. of such of the information furnished to it under sub-section (1). Different Standards of performance by licensee 58. in such form and manner as it considers appropriate. the concerned licensee shall be given a reasonable opportunity of being heard. furnish to the Commission the following information. Information with respect to levels of performance 59.

Some regulators have also taken certain initiatives to address issues of quality for improvement of customer service.".Strategic Interventions for a Customer-driven Distribution Utility Quality of service: role of regulators • The ERC (Electricity Regulatory Commission) Act 1998 enjoins upon the central electricity regulator to seek advice from the central advisory committee on "matters relating to quality. the electricity regulator through its Distribution (conditions of supply) Code 1998. and AP. Low voltage Time limit for rendering the service 15 days in case of local problems and 6 months 18 . Gujarat. supply and utilization of electricity. distribution companies have to bring down voltage variations within declared limits within fifteen working days of complaint in 60 percent of cases. In Orissa. There are also procedures for grievance redressal by the utility and by OERC (Electricity Regulatory Commission). the quality of service. • The OER (Orissa Electricity Reform) Act 1995 mandates the regulator to "regulate the purchase. Similarly.…. overall performance standards have also been set for distribution and retail supply: for example. continuity.energy supply and overall standards of performance by utilities".No. UP. and penalties prescribed are very high. These standards are backed up by provisions for imposition of penalties for violations. Similar provision exists in the Acts setting up regulatory authorities in Karnataka. Type of service 1. distribution. Standards of service in Orissa Sl. and extent of service provided by the licensee.…. has set the service standards required to be provided to consumers by a distribution utility.

and many states have taken initiatives in this direction also. Billing errors Disconnection and reconnection of power supply Though we see quality of service provided by the distribution utility is laid prime importance by the government and the regulators. 6. is to be done within 15 days of deposit of fees by the consumer Engineer will install correct meter within 14 days of handing over of the said meter by the consumer 60 days 30 days 4./day or continuing for more than 6 consecutive days Metering problems a) Meter supplied by Licensee Defect rectified within 30 days and if meter needs replacement the said replacement has to be made within 30 working days from the date of removal of the meter Engineer required to advise the consumer suitably for testing/repair/replacement within 7 working days of noticing the defect Meter testing. yet there is scope for improvement. where it shall not exceed a maximum of 7 days 3. 19 . of scheduled shutdown exceeding 12 complaint hrs. b) Meter supplied by Consumer 5. Duration of load shedding or Prevent such recurrence within 72 hrs. Restoration following interruption/failure of power supply 24 hrs. if so desired by the consumer in Licence’s testing laboratory.Strategic Interventions for a Customer-driven Distribution Utility requiring augmentation of distribution system 2. in all cases except in case of major failures involving transformers and 11 KV feeders including its terminal equipments.

if they do become unhappy. A utility has to integrate its functions to work efficiently as a tool for the customer service organization and back-office organizations like billing. And. Utilities and municipalities who have attempted to measure these activities report that it may be fewer than 20 percent of our customers who generate over 80 percent of our customer care work. All utilities are looking for ways to “touch” their customers. Either way it is something the utility does not want. But. for the most part. Eighty percent of the efforts in the customer care/customer service area are for 20 percent of the customers. they can easily join and ultimately increase the size of that 20 percent group.4 CONCEPTUALISATION Utilities. or increasing the utilities costs of serving them. Various kinds of customer satisfaction surveys are being conducted by the utilities to find the overall satisfaction of the customers from the utilities services. albeit regulated. resulting in either a lower level of customer service to this group. Today customer care is a primary focus of most utilities. even if they cannot necessarily leave the utility and select another service provider.Strategic Interventions for a Customer-driven Distribution Utility 1. etc. 20 . this may even be stretching it. Distribution utilities have a 'captured' base of customers or consumers. Another very important. we must realize that the 80-20 rule applies here too. are still monopolies. and many times missed aspect. cashiering. is to consider the other group of customers who are the utilities internal customers. collections. It is important that utilities continue to provide excellent customer service to rest 80 percent group because.

Though this is certainly a step in the right direction. the most important change being the irreversible move from being a monopoly business to a competitive market.Strategic Interventions for a Customer-driven Distribution Utility 1. The future mantra of a successful electricity business would be the “ownership of customer” rather than “ownership of assets”. only the customer orientation and service quality offered by the utility would decide the eventual winner. Some major shifts in the external environment of the distribution companies have already manifested. in this new environment.5 OPERATIONALISATION OF THE CONCEPT OWNERSHIP OF CUSTOMERS The electricity business is evolving from a monopoly to a competitive market and the utilities are gearing up to face the challenge through internal reforms and restructuring.a parallel licensee with his own distribution infrastructure. In each case. the customer will be able to choose his power 21 . or a consumer/ retailer leveraging existing distribution assets under the open access provisions. Retail competition can now take many forms. 2003. New order in distribution Developments in the power sector have gathered momentum since the passage of Electricity Act. or a consumer setting up a captive power station without accessing a distribution network at all. The Electricity Act has already created an enabling environment for competition in bulk and retail power markets.

Though this may be new to the electricity distribution business. competitive businesses derive value from their ability to attract and retain customers. lines. 22 . However.and engineeringintensive business to a customer oriented and commercially driven business. this would mean infrastructure such as substations. Emerging business value drivers With the changing environment. geographic reach etc. It is therefore not difficult to see that the transformations required in the business are so far-reaching that they would affect the core of the distribution business. Monopolies derive value from their asset base.monopolies have always experienced shifts in their value drivers when their industry has opened up to competition. The inevitability of competition is now evident from the fact that various state electricity regulatory commissions (SERCs) have already issued draft guidelines for distribution-level open access.in the case of distribution companies. The business model itself would change from being an asset. What this means for the incumbent utilities is the emergence of a new order where the customer will be the sole arbitrator of performance. the processes in the “retail selling” side of electricity distribution companies would undergo a major transformation.Strategic Interventions for a Customer-driven Distribution Utility supplier rather than being compelled to buy power from the distribution licensee in his area.

changes in connected load.Strategic Interventions for a Customer-driven Distribution Utility Many reforming SEBs (and their newly created avatars. should not be seen with a transactional approach but with a process approach. The typical process starts with a new customer seeking service. energy audit services etc. In electricity distribution customer relationships are not time bound and hence. The next step is service provision. as well as value-added services such as assistance in cost reduction by demand-side management.the unbundled distribution companies) have started recognizing this change and a few have also taken the first steps towards creating organizations that are customer friendly. Customer life-cycle management process In order to achieve tangible improvements in customer service. with the maximum potential for causing customer dissatisfaction. This is often the most critical area identified for reform. name changes etc. connection shifting. Along with this. It has been observed that a lacuna in billing and collection processes results in the swift exit of customers. wither by seeking a new connection or by transfer of an existing connection to a new person. which encompasses the basic service of providing reliable and quality power at affordable tariffs to meet the demand. which can be termed as the customer’s life cycle with the organization. it is essential to identify the typical steps that each customer will go through. utilities could also provide various ancillary services such as fault repairs. The next part of the life cycle covers the charges for services provided and collection of dues. 23 .

etc. Often. It is important to provide facilities such as electronic presentation and 24 .use of information technology The companies would need to reorient the nature of management information systems. efficient and customer friendly. utilities need to make it easy and convenient for customers to apply for new connections. the company should also carry out advance planning of networks for reducing service commencement time. the use of information technology (IT) to improve customer connectivity. In addition. Towards this goal. such as a customer coming to obtain a new connection. receiving payments from customers. Simplified entry procedures The entry process for new customers assures prime importance in a competitive environment. These are the key interfaces with the customers. in this process. receiving customer complaints.the real challenge The best way to start improving customer processes is to identify the key “touchpoints” with customers. utilities will fine-tune processes and get the additional benefit of saving their own time and costs. and consequently. An essential element in the customer-oriented approach is the deployment of various IT systems to provide data to customers in a friendly manner.Strategic Interventions for a Customer-driven Distribution Utility Process reorientation towards customer satisfaction. sending bills to customers. Improvements in “touch-points” should be the first items on the agenda and each one should be reviewed to make them simple. as customers tend to give a lot of weightage to the ease with which they can subscribe to the services. Framework to improve customer “touch-points”.

For instance. online fault booking.innovative efforts Many utilities have started the process of building on various customer-friendly measures with the objective to retain valuable customers by offering them maximum convenience. such as obtaining new connections. etc. which also provide a basic idea of consumption based on hours of usage of typical household gadgets. by proper demand-side management it may be possible for the utilities to flatten its load curve and would lead to savings by the customer. excess billing complaints. Value addition by providing ancillary services Offering ancillary services would leverage the technical expertise of the utility ina manner that would bring advantage to both the utility and the customer.Strategic Interventions for a Customer-driven Distribution Utility payment of bills. Providing subsidized categories of customers with upgrades to more energy efficient technologies to control their drawals is another example of such a win-win situation. billing and payment history. A number of utilities have created call centers to create a central point to receive customer complaints. Customer retention. etc. online resolution of simple bill disputes such as arithmetical errors. A few have even centralized all customer interaction by creating kiosks that handles all the activities. Andhra Pradesh has introduced a bill presentation and payment system called eseva. Some have started providing bills to customers in the language of their choice. This acts as a concentration point providing citizens access to bills and 25 .

Clear and transparent eligibility criteria were developed considering past payment. it was quite popular and demonstrated an effective way of reaching out to the most critical customers and ensuring their satisfaction. member bank ATMs. Efforts were made to provide quality services to these “gold” customers and ensure that they are retained through a continuous feedback mechanism to identify and redress their problems on a priority basis.Strategic Interventions for a Customer-driven Distribution Utility forms from various government departments. including the distribution companies. drop boxes etc. 26 . The Gold Card scheme that was in practice in Karnataka is also a good example of a customer outreach initiative. The infrastructure created for this purpose allows for online payment of electricity bills in addition to payment at any one of the e-seva kiosks. The scheme was designed to provide its large customers with express privileges. The increased convenience in bill payment leads to lower default rates. annual consumption etc. Though the scheme is not in operation today.

However. The main objective of this project is to obtain an overview of the customer focus strategies of the distribution utility and to analyze the areas for improvement. “customer is regarded as a king”.Strategic Interventions for a Customer-driven Distribution Utility 1. This is because for a utility. the winner in the new era will be the entity that “owns” the maximum number of customers and not necessarily the assets. And like many other sectors. the monopolies in the electricity distribution business have realized that their sector is on the cusp of a competitive era where “empowered” customers will be calling the shots. 27 .5 FOCUS OF THE STUDY A monopolistic environment causes organizations to lose their customer focus.

AT&C loss reduction etc. This report does not analyze the company’s perspective. though to some extent. The cost perspective for improving customer service strategies both at utilities and the consumers end have not been analyzed in great details.e. it is underway. which are the main reasons for poor quality of service to customers. However a fairly good sample has been analyzed within prescribed time limits. 28 .6 LIMITATIONS The conceptualization of a competitive era in which customer is the main focus of the utility will actually take some time to evolve in Indian distribution sector. Time constraint and sample size can be considered other limitations of this project. means to stop power thefts. i.Strategic Interventions for a Customer-driven Distribution Utility 1.

it constitutes the blue print for the collection.1 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY RESEARCH DESIGN The research design is the conceptual structure within which research is conducted. The basic purpose of the research is to see the customer services strategies in the current scenario and suggest areas of intervention (from the consumer’s perspective) for the same to improve the current shape. As such the design includes an outline of what the researcher will do from writing the hypothesis and its operational implications to the final analysis of data. 2. or of a group after discussion with the individual/group. This is an analytical kind of research study. which are concerned with analyzing the characteristics of a particular individual. This research deals with the customer service strategies to evolve successfully in this competitive era. 29 . Here I have obtained the primary data from the respondents in the form of a questionnaire and then analyzed and interpreted the same as per my perceptions to reveal the status of customer satisfaction in a distribution utility. measurement and analysis of data.Strategic Interventions for a Customer-driven Distribution Utility 2. Analytical research studies are those studies.

It can be presumed that in such an inquiry. commercial.Strategic Interventions for a Customer-driven Distribution Utility 2. In this research only the analysis for the external customers has been done. 30 . temporary • Internal customers Due to limited time it was difficult to cover the entire universe. that too under the category of domestic. The universe in this case includes all the customers • External customers or end-users: domestic. But in practice this may not be true. when all items are covered. no element of chance is left and the highest accuracy is obtained. A complete enumeration of all the items in the ‘population’ is known as a census inquiry.2 UNIVERSE AND SURVEY POPULATION All items in any field of inquiry constitute a ‘universe’ or ‘population’. industrial.

due to the considerations of time and cost almost invariably lead to a selection of respondents i. The selected respondents constitute what is typically called a ‘sample’ and the selection process is called ‘sampling technique’. where the primary sampling unit represents a cluster of units based on geographic area. are distinguished as area sampling.Strategic Interventions for a Customer-driven Distribution Utility 2. In other words. cluster designs. The respondents selected should be as representative of the total population as possible in order to produce a miniature cross-section. The survey so conducted is known as ‘sample survey’.3 SAMPLE SIZE AND TECHNIQUE As stated above. Technique: Random Sampling 31 . selection of only a few items. For the study. In area sampling the total population is divided into a number of relatively small subdivisions which are themselves clusters of still smaller units and then some of these clusters are geographically selected for inclusion in the overall sample. Sample size: I have collected in total 25 samples.. we use area-sampling technique.e.

Primary data are those.. The researcher would have to decide which sort of data he would be using (thus collecting) for 32 . primary and secondary.4 DATA COLLECTION The task of data collection begins after a research problem has been defined and research design/plan chalked out.Strategic Interventions for a Customer-driven Distribution Utility 2. and thus happen to be original in character. Data can be categorized into two types of data viz. Common ways of collection of such data. which are collected afresh and for the first time. depending on the need of the research are: • • • • • • • • • • Consumer / Customer Telephone Interviews Executive Telephone Interviews Focus Groups In-depth One-on-One Interviews Intercepts Mail Surveys Mini Groups Panel Research Email Surveys Internet Research Usability Tests Secondary data are those which have already been collected by someone else and which have already been passed through the statistical process.

COLLECTION OF SECONDARY DATA When the researcher utilizes secondary data. For this project report. then he has to look into various sources from where he can obtain them.Strategic Interventions for a Customer-driven Distribution Utility his study and accordingly he will have to select one or the other method of data collection. then we can obtain primary data either through observation or through direct communication with respondents in one form or another or through personal interviews (unstructured). 33 . COLLECTION OF PRIMARY DATA We collect primary data during the course of doing experiments in an experimental research but in case we do research of the descriptive type as is our case. data was collected through questionnaires and interviews. The questionnaire and the name of persons with their age groups and profile have been attached as Annexure-I & II. In this case secondary data from the documents and survey reports has been utilized.

has to be processed and analyzed in accordance with the outline laid down for the purpose at the time of developing the research plan. This is essential for a scientific study and for ensuring that we have all relevant data for making contemplated comparisons and analysis. 34 .Strategic Interventions for a Customer-driven Distribution Utility 2. after collection.5 DATA ANALYSIS The data.

and return value and dividends. many utilities still see it as a business function rather than a core business process. the distribution utilities still needs to understand 35 . and proactive manner. affordable electric power to customers while also communicating. While there are many success stories and many more lessons learned from across the industry. and the need to cut costs. the majority of utilities are still not fully customer service focused organizations – despite their best efforts to improve customer service. staff. in the world of utility operations this easy to state mission entails complex business processes and creates multiple challenges for utility management. drive down internal costs. The utility customer service imperative is simple and straightforward. Utilities must provide reliable. increase operational efficiency. STRATEGIC INTERVENTIONS FOR A CUSTOMER DRIVEN DISTRIBUTION UTILITY The utility industry has been on a roller coaster ride for much of the past few years. distribution utilities have been devising new information technology strategies and spending millions on computer systems. higher than ever demand. software. Truth be told. and information technology (IT) systems. billing.Strategic Interventions for a Customer-driven Distribution Utility 3. and collecting payment from customers in a courteous. and business design to streamline operations. Caught in the midst of aging infrastructure. and create new revenue opportunities. efficient. Although this customer service imperative is simply stated. For many years. the utility enterprise must continue to focus on delivering the highest quality of service and care to its customers.

the distribution utilities are only now beginning to realize that effective and efficient customer service rests not only on hardware but on selection and deployment of customer care applications (software) and customer service optimized business processes. CRM. However. efficiency. utilities have invested substantial resources in CIS. Awareness and Satisfaction Toward Services Offered 36 . and other customer care systems and architecture. yet they are not realizing the level of cost savings. Common Areas of Investigation for Utility Organizations: 1.Strategic Interventions for a Customer-driven Distribution Utility that customer information and customer care are among the most important functions of the utility enterprise and that customer information systems (CIS) and customer care (often called Customer Relationship Management or “CRM”) really do have bearing on every aspect of utility operations and utility planning and decision making. This has led some utilities to the erroneous conclusion that customer information and customer care systems are not worth the large investment.or systems-centric mode of investment has created an environment in which many utilities possess a critical mass of customer care technology. or customer satisfaction expected after making investments in CIS and customer care infrastructure. should not remain a high priority in the enterprise. Over the past decade. On the contrary. Customer Satisfaction Analysis 2. and therefore. all indications are that customer service and customer care must be the top priority in the utility enterprise. This same hardware.

Commercial Customer Perceptions and Issues 7. to address customer needs. unlike say the telecom industry. Community Involvement Issues 10. Pricing / Billing Issues 11. there is a lack of a formal organization construct. In fact. Perceptions Toward Conservation Issues 5. encounter uncooperative attitude of staff and need to make unofficial payments to resolve their issues. Perceptions Toward the Utility 6. The result is that customers frequently face long delays in resolving technical and commercial complaints. Consumer Customer Demographic Analysis 8. Major issues by which a customer is not satisfied with the service of utility are: • • • Poor availability and quality of power Multiple contact points Tedious processes and bribery 37 .Strategic Interventions for a Customer-driven Distribution Utility 3. Communications / Advertising Issues 9. Perceptions Towards Core Services 4. This means that customers need to interact with multiple entities for any service request. Power Outage Issues (Electrical Utilities) CUSTOMER ISSUES The concept of customer service is almost non-existent in most distribution companies. Budget Billing 12.

Strategic Interventions for a Customer-driven Distribution Utility • • Limited payment modes Poor customer service Challenges before a utility to improve their performance and enhance customer satisfaction are in the following areas • • • • • • Information Technology End-to-end processes Behaviour Resources Orgnanisation structure WHAT DOES THE CUSTOMER WANT? The key needs of the customer are depicted in the figure below. These need to be the focus of the IT applications. 38 .

Strategic Interventions for a Customer-driven Distribution Utility The focus of IT applications for customer benefit The service levels to customers in the areas mentioned in the above figure could be improved by monitoring the following parameters: Quality and reliability of supply • • Scheduled and unscheduled outages Communication from SEBs on possible outages and outage time Accuracy of bills • • • • • Inaccurate meter reading or no meter reading Meter reading taken but not reported No posting of collection Changed meter status Wrong calculation Payment mechanisms 39 .

available facilities to log complaints 40 . provision of new connections Responsiveness to bill queries Preferred vs.Strategic Interventions for a Customer-driven Distribution Utility • • • Bill not delivered in time to make payment Waiting time for bill payment Preferred vs. available mode of payments Complaint handling • • • Demand vs.

which provides the customer with a onestop service facility and enable the utility company to apply the "one-face-to-thecustomer" principle. How information flow in the utility help it in achieving customer service 41 . Call center solutions can further increase the efficiency this brings.Strategic Interventions for a Customer-driven Distribution Utility 3. articles or special reports Production of short documentaries on the distribution utilities of the state to be broadcast on TV and radio programs. running in all localities to be affected by the outage.as attractive and as simple as possible. • • Posters/ Slogans/ Phrases to be hanged/ pasted in the utilities offices Disseminating the information of planned outage through rickshaws/ jeeps etc. Information to the customers from the utility can pass through following means • • Dissemination of press releases.1 ROLE OF INFORMATION/COMMUNICATION IN CUSTOMER SERVICE It is important to make the contact that customers have with their utility company . The ultimate in customer focus can be achieved if customers are also able to use their private Internet connection to accomplish service transactions and make requests quickly and effortlessly.previously more of a bureaucratic nature . The basis for this contact consists of efficient front-office functions in the utility company's customer information system. at the same time having access to useful information about other services provided by their utility company.

Strategic Interventions for a Customer-driven Distribution Utility Benefits of Information Flow across the Organisation 42 .

Strategic Interventions for a Customer-driven Distribution Utility 3. Hardware and IT security prevent issues on data integrity. Globally IT is being used to enable operations at a transaction level thus providing advantages like in-built process controls. Use of electronic meters and data loggers/ handhelds is rare. This move has reduced their administrative costs and also dramatically reduced the collusion between meter readers and consumers at prepaid locations. single point of data capture and support for timely strategic decision making. the wide gap between India and global best has to be bridged. In order to reap the benefits of IT. poor data quality. For example. the core operations are still manual and therefore face issues like adhoc decision making. How IT can help distribution utility to cater customer services 43 . workflow enabled transactions. Benefits of improvement in IT technologies can enhance utilities value also. On the other hand. Most IT systems are homegrown packages that lack integration.2 ROLE OF TECHNOLOGY IN CUSTOMER SERVICE Technology Issues Most distribution companies despite having to process large volumes of data are sub-optimally supported by IT systems and automation. in India. The gap in IT adoption globally and in the Indian power sector is apparent and glaring and even the rate of overall technology adoption in India is on the lower side. parameterization and robustness. long decision making cycles and under utilisation of IT investments. the South African power distribution utility has converted a majority of its low value consumers to prepaid metering.

Strategic Interventions for a Customer-driven Distribution Utility Benefits of IT applications to customers Customer benefit–IT applications The implementation of IT initiatives. 44 . though not an easy task. reduced technical and commercial losses. customer satisfaction and a fundamental change in the work culture. will result in improvement in reliability and quality of supply. The computerised system will revolutionise the way that utilities conduct their business by reducing operating cost. improving customer service and increasing employee efficiency. increased productivity.

at the same time having access to useful information about other services provided by their utility company.Strategic Interventions for a Customer-driven Distribution Utility 3.3 PERFORMANCE OF END-TO-END PROCESSES TO ENHANCE CUSTOMER SATISFACTION The ultimate in customer focus can be achieved if customers are able to use their private Internet connection to accomplish business transactions and make requests quickly and effortlessly. 45 .

46 . promotions and transfers on performance. Any attempt to tighten up operations. penalties. (b) preparing right strategies to implement business plans. the availability of commercial skills and business acumen is inadequate.Strategic Interventions for a Customer-driven Distribution Utility 3. (c) developing feasible and relevant goals and pragmatic action plan to implement the same. Managing performance effectively to achieve business goals inquires continual implementation and execution of the following tasks: (a) developing and maintaining high quality of leadership.4 ENHANCING EFFECTIVENESS OF DISTRIBUTION COMPANIES THROUGH HRD Customer care and service must be an inherent part of the value-added chain of the utility. Over manning and lack of cost control also have contributed to creating unsustainable cost structures. which is critical to shoring up the financial parameters is inadequate. focus on commercial issues and performance. There is a complete lack of accountability and while the ‘technical’ skill-set available is adequate. accurate and reliable management information because of weak data capture and analysis. is severely hampered by the absence of timely. Management Issues These issues become even more complicated and challenging because of the management style and work culture prevalent in these organisations. measurement and follow up (e) basing rewards. (d) intensifying performance monitoring. As a result.

47 . (g) conducting active and focused management by managers and of managers. helping those who have unrealized potential and terminating the incapable.Strategic Interventions for a Customer-driven Distribution Utility (f) stimulating the most capable.

motivated and skilled employees.Strategic Interventions for a Customer-driven Distribution Utility 3.quality power supply and services at low cost and with short lead times(i. Ensure customized high. The intangible assets include capability to provide timely quality power and services. and satisfied and happy consumers/ customers. distinctive internal capabilities. quality. Introduce innovative and services and options.5 MANAGEMENT OF RESOURCES TO ENHANCE CUSTOMER SATISFACTION The business model of distribution company should be viewed from the synergy created by various perspectives in the distribution companies such as Customer. 48 . Intangible resources and assets enable the distribution companies to: • • • • Develop customer relationships that build trust. Financials. Increasingly serve new customer segments. • mobilize employee skills for continuous improvements in process capabilities.e. and response times. Human Resources and Institutional Processes and Systems. possible to manage high value customer at off peak hours at low rates). Today success will depend on the ability of a company to mobilise and exploit its tangible as well as intangible assets to perform better and live up to the expectations of the stakeholders.

.but customers perceive your company as ‘Innovative’ and ‘Forward thinking’ A leader in the industry Product – Service Development Employees Integrating Employee and Customer Perspectives 49 .Strategic Interventions for a Customer-driven Distribution Utility 3.6 HOW TO ALIGN ORGANIZATION STRUCTURE TO ENHANCE CUSTOMER SATISFACTION Reliable Sales Group Employees Dependable While employees having direct contact with customers see your company as a company that is ‘reliable/dependable’…. Service Center Employees Upholding High Quality Services Customers Forward Innovative thinking ….

For this. which can help in this: 50 . Infact.Strategic Interventions for a Customer-driven Distribution Utility 3. The customers affected with any outage should be immediately identified and informed of the outage or a possible outage as well as the approximate duration. This results in prompter action and better customer relationship.7 QUALITY Customer expectations for service quality are rising. The real-time information ensures that the official concerned (distribution point) is aware of any breakdown / disruption at the same time as the consumer. not only in regions where they perceive more choice in the energy marketplace. electric flow in the system should be monitored on a real-time basis. service that's not up to customer expectations can have a quick and negative impact on a utility's bottom line. but also because experiences with service providers outside the energy industry are setting new standards for performance. Managing service quality cost-effectively raises difficult questions: • How do physical measures of service reliability and power quality relate to customer satisfaction? • What other aspects of service drive satisfaction? Improvement in quality of service implies • • Stable voltage and frequency Enhanced customer experience Quality and reliability of supply can be improved with proper system maintenance and faster action on outage complaints. Following are some of the IT applications.

phones. • IVR for complaints and call back on restoration of supply 51 . etc.Strategic Interventions for a Customer-driven Distribution Utility • • SCADA to start with and then progressing to distribution automation Outage and work management system including trouble call management system for faster restoration of outages • GIS (Geographical Information System) for identifying area and equipments • CIS (Customer Information System) using Internet. call-centres.

Strategic Interventions for a Customer-driven Distribution Utility 3.8 STANDARDS OF PERFORMANCE Customer Perceptions: Achieving strong satisfaction requires understanding how the customers perceive your company’s performance 52 .

use of IT would be required for providing interfaces with entities like banks and building Internet-based payment processing. SEBs should adopt other payment mechanisms such as: • • • Electronic payments. Only in few places. 53 . payments can be made online or through the ATM. including direct debit payments Prepaid metering Bar coding facility even when payment is made in person. SEBs allow only full payment and the system for providing credit facility (part payment) is quite ad hoc.9 PAYMENT MECHANISMS Payments are currently made in person in most of the places.Strategic Interventions for a Customer-driven Distribution Utility 3. At present. SEBs could put a system in place for providing credit and monitor it. This requires credit analysis of customers and segregation of “good paying customers” from “bad customers”. SEBs could also provide various payment options such as budget payment (average payment) and seasonal payment depending on the customers’ preference and credit rating. for faster payment • Multiple payment locations and not restricted to a particular division or subdivision For providing electronic payments.

regulators could set standards for SEBs in terms of timelines to provide new connections. On the process side. All the basic information for new connections should be easily and publicly available to the customers either through a website or other communication channels. SEBs/Utilities should have: • • Call centres with IVR for outages and bill related complaints Call back from IVR on restoration of supply or redressal of any bill related complaint New connection is a major problem in all the SEBs.10 COMPLAINT HANDLING At present. In most cases. Contact centres can reduce this kind of trouble for customers. There is no suitable system in most SEBs for availability of information or monitoring of application status.Strategic Interventions for a Customer-driven Distribution Utility 3. consumers find it very difficult to log their complaints. they have to go to the substation for supply related complaints and the concerned offices for bill related complaints. SEBs must implement a system to enable the customers to know the status of their applications in a transparent manner. 54 .

2-4 hrs.Strategic Interventions for a Customer-driven Distribution Utility 4. 40% >5 hrs. 1 hr. Frequency and Duration of Outages (a) Is your power supply interrupted never rarely sometimes frequently 0 7 9 9 never 0% frequently 36% rarely 28% never rarely sometimes frequently sometimes 36% (b) If yes. STATISTICAL ANALYSIS 1. 6 6 10 3 >5 hrs. what is the normal duration of such outage? few minutes 1 hr. 2-4 hrs. >5 hrs. 12% few minutes 24% few minutes 1 hr. 2-4 hrs. 24% (c) Are you given prior notices of such outages? never rarely 3 11 55 .

Strategic Interventions for a Customer-driven Distribution Utility sometimes always always 12% never 12% 8 3 never rarely sometimes 32% sometimes rarely 44% alw ays Remarks: It was observed that there are frequent power cuts occurring in the customer’s premises occurring for generally one hour or even more. One major reason cited for this cut was the onset of summer. Do you encounter frequent high or low voltages? never rarely usually always 6 7 10 2 alw ays 8% never 24% never rarely usually always usually 40% rarely 28% Remarks: Frequent drop in voltages is a major occurrence in many customers premises. Due to this many are not able to use their appliances at night times in summer. but there were respondents who told that such power cuts are daily occurrences and no prior notice is given of such outages. newspapers and radio are used as a medium to communicate such outages. Standardized billing procedure and format (a) Is the bill format easy to understand 11 56 . But this problem was majorly observed in areas of SEBs operation. 3. Customers have to assume such occurrences based on routine repetitions. Sometimes. 2.

Strategic Interventions for a Customer-driven Distribution Utility complex difficult to understand can't say can't say 8% difficult to understand 28% easy to understand 44% 5 7 2 easy to understand complex difficult to understand can't say complex 20% (b) Is your bill generally less than expected as per expectations more than expected can't say can't say 8% 3 10 10 2 less than expected 12% less than expected as per expectations more than expected can't say more than expected 40% as per expectations 40% (c) Do you prefer paying bill through cash counter drop boxes online/ credit any other means 8 6 8 3 any other means 12% online/ credit 32% cash counter 32% cash counter drop boxes online/ credit any other means drop boxes 24% 57 .

Notices to consumers of their rights to seek relief at the commission At what intervals does your utility issue notices for your information to seek help of NGO. Dissatisfaction was apparent due to the use of the electronic meters which gave rise to more bill amount than expected by the customer. though some faced difficulty. The bill format was generally understandable. The expectations with the bill were met to a less extent.Strategic Interventions for a Customer-driven Distribution Utility (d) What is the average time taken to redress complaints related to meters and bills? within few hrs. w ithin 1 day 2-3 days >3 days 2-3 days 16% w ithin 1 day 36% Remarks: This is one area of prime concern for the utility as well as customers.. within 1 day 2-3 days >3 days 4 9 4 8 >3 days 32% w ithin few hrs. or Commission once a month six monthly once in a year never 5 3 5 12 58 . 16% w ithin few hrs. Govt. It was clear from the survey that the customers want to opt out of waiting in queues for bill payment and they want to opt for other options depending upon the time and the risk involved. 4. Resolution of metering and billing disputes also raised concern in minds of customers towards the utility because such incidents consumed much of their working hours and so many people opted for not complaining if the difference is not too large.

7. Hardly are the customers made aware of where they can seek relief in case the utility defaults. Some customers opt out of choice using energy efficient lamps but many are forced to use them because of problem of drop in voltage. 5. Delays in establishing new service connections (a) Do you observe delays in establishing new service connections? yes no 20 5 59 . 6. Has your utility asked you to undertake various energy efficiency programs? always usually never can't say can't say 8% alw ays usually alw ays 44% usually 36% never can't say 11 9 3 2 never 12% Remarks: The energy efficient slogans and phrases find their place in consumer’s bills and utilities offices.Strategic Interventions for a Customer-driven Distribution Utility once a month 20% once a month never 48% six monthly 12% six monthly once in a year never once in a year 20% Remarks: The notices never get noticed to the consumers.

the period ranging from 1 week to 1 month 8. 1 day >1 day 8 8 6 3 60 . 2-6 hrs. how many days delay was there? 1 week 2-4 weeks >1 month 2-6 months 2-6 months 16% 1 w eek 16% 1 w eek 2-4 w eeks >1 month 24% 2-4 w eeks 44% >1 month 2-6 months 4 11 6 4 Remarks: Service connection delays are very common for customers.Strategic Interventions for a Customer-driven Distribution Utility no 20% yes no yes 80% (b) If yes. What is your utility’s repair/ safety response times? 1hr.

10. service transformers)? every month 2-3 months breakdown occurs 5 6 14 every month 20% every month breakdow n occurs 56% 2-3 months 2-3 months 24% breakdow n occurs Remarks: The maintenance programs are generally undertaken once breakdown occurs. 9. Business office performance (a) Are the employees in the customer care center helpful and friendly? always usually rarely never 7 13 3 2 61 . 1 day >1 day 1 day 24% 2-6 hrs. 32% Remarks: Generally repair work is completed at the optimum time depending on the situation and the intensity of the repair. At what intervals your utility conducts specific maintenance programs (of meters.Strategic Interventions for a Customer-driven Distribution Utility >1 day 12% 1hr. the meter checker observes the meter related problems at many locations but with outsourcing of such activities being done now. service poles. we can assume the technical capability of such a person to look for such disruptions. 32% 1hr. No regular update of service connections provisions are maintained at customers premises. 2-6 hrs. Many a times.

62 . >5min >10 min 6 13 4 2 >10 min 8% >5min 16% 30 sec 24% 30 sec 1-5 min. what is the average hold time? 30 sec 1-5 min. 52% Remarks: This is one area where the utility is functioning well. ie. >5min >10 min 1-5 min.Strategic Interventions for a Customer-driven Distribution Utility never rarely 8% 12% alw ays 28% alw ays usually rarely never usually 52% (b) Are your calls in the customer care centers answered promptly. The customer care centers personnel co-operate with the employee problems and try solving them but better integration of such personnel with customer databases and records is required to reduce the hold time.

• To the consumer the two most important aspects that emerged were grievance handling and metering and billing. 63 . • Reporting mechanisms are not strictly followed • Analysis of the survey's results clearly reflected the dissatisfaction.Strategic Interventions for a Customer-driven Distribution Utility 5. and wide gap between expectations and services delivered. • SUMMARY There is no provision to regularly monitor whether the time limits are adhered to or not in case of non conformance to standards.

• All the distribution utilities must define Customer Service Standards consisting of:  Overall Standards. problems in metering and billing. involving the supply quality. penalization in terms 64 . actual meter reading. the ability to restore supply after a failure of the distribution system. Procedures to be adopted for the complaints regarding interruption or failure of power supply. time to connect new customers. disconnection and reconnection of power supply. • RECOMMENDATIONS Frequent interaction with the consumer forums must be done by the distribution utility to yield areas of customer dissatisfaction and to act upon such issues so as to increase overall effectiveness of the utility. delay in providing new connections must be provided by the utility through any means like print advertising. and reconnection of supply in case of having been disconnected. management of voltage complaints. For the guaranteed standards. etc. scheduled outages. • Distribution utilities in the state must arrange wider publicity to Complaint Handling Procedure. direct mail. time to respond to customers’ requests and compliance to the service conditions. voltage complaints. sales literature. load shedding. billing and response to customers’ petitions. and  Guaranteed Standards. i. utilities website. drawing the attention of the consumers. public relations.Strategic Interventions for a Customer-driven Distribution Utility 6.e.

It gives a high-level view of workload and helps offices communicate effectively to ensure that the utility meets the customers' needs. Thus. regular updates of mapping system so that all of the customer's account information is available when a customer calls in to 24-hour call center. • Another area which needs improvement is metering systems. • Customer Relationship management systems must be designed in such a way that employees get information about customers' accounts when they are out in the field meeting with customers. • There is a need to streamline the grievance redressal procedure. and provide customers with timely energy information. • A step further in customer services area can be achieved by the utility by centralizing a number of their field functions.Strategic Interventions for a Customer-driven Distribution Utility of fine can be established. • Work management system of the utility must be made effective. This system will automatically read meters so the utilities don't have to send their employees into the customers' homes and backyards. help the utilities gain operational efficiencies. This system helps manage work at a company level. Automated meter reading system or AMR must be introduced in phases. as a consumer usually has to approach to various levels within a utility. This doesn’t mean closing 65 . the process of grievance redressal is time consuming and cumbersome • Updation of customer information system with databases of customers. Automated meter reading will improve the quality of meter reading. The utilities will have to compensate affected customers in case the guaranteed standards cannot be met.

Strategic Interventions for a Customer-driven Distribution Utility field offices. • Creation of an on-line access for the larger customers to provide them with energy information tailored to their business environment can also be a way to enhance customer service. but rather shifting the emphasis from addressing walk-in customers' needs to more of an operationally focused field office. • Bill payment systems can be extended to forms like on-line payments. 66 . payments directly from customers' bank accounts. etc. or payment at pay stations.

The result of a business is a satisfied customer. Results exist only on the outside. Finally the single most important thing to remember about any enterprise is that there are no results inside its walls.Strategic Interventions for a Customer-driven Distribution Utility CONCLUSION Every Customer Interaction Counts! Thus its very important for any distribution utility to maintain service standards and provide quality service to the customers to sustain in this competitive era. inside an enterprise there are only cost centers. -Peter Drucker 67 .