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Achieving Service Excellence Through The Digital Utility
By Thomas Kuczynski, CIO, DC Water
The Digital Utility is characterized by the seamless integration of previously disparate solutions into a digital ecosystem that powers the service delivery platform. The Digital Utility encompasses enabling capabilities that allow for proactive management of all aspects of the business. The transformation starts with a transition from wired to wireless, desktop to handhelds and the integration of Internet of Things (IoT) devices like smart meters. Equally important is the adoption of service channels beyond the traditional call center including the web, mobile apps, interactive voices response systems, chat bots and social media that are available 24x7x365. It’s important to note that enabling these channels alone and in isolation will only exasperate the problem, to truly achieve service excellence requires the utility to create an Omnichannel experience for its customers allowing for a seamless transition between channels to complete transactions. The second piece of the Digital Utility puzzle is field force automation. Field force automation coupled with fully integrated work, resource and asset management capabilities enables the utility to achieve their Service Excellence goals. Customers can schedule, change and/or cancel service orders or monitor the status of a service requests in real-time, make payments or review usage 24x7x365. Technicians can send real-time status alerts to customers and notify them when they are enroute. Once on-site technicians can quickly review prior service visits and diagnose problems more quickly reducing the time on the job. Dispatchers can visualize trouble calls and field resources in real-time making more informed dispatching decisions delivering service more quickly. Appointments can be monitored to ensure they are kept;all leading to higher levels of customer satisfaction. Finally, predictive analytics allows the utility to improve operations, reduce costs and deliver new services to customers more quickly. As an example, by utilizing AMI reads utilities can analyze individual customer usage in near-real time and alert customers of usage anomalies thus avoiding high-bill complaints. Utilizing existing asset and work order history and blending that data with other traditional data sources like weather and soil compositions and overlying non-traditional sources like traffic loads or road surface maintenance history helps identify possible trouble spots. Proactively inspecting those areas and performing preventive maintenance if needed, can help avoid service interrupts that lead to customer complaints. The Digital Utility of the future is the foundation for a new service delivery model that places the customer first.