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Victorian utility adopts innovative billing software to improve customer service

Coliban Water has implemented a new customer billing software to help people engage with the business when and how they choose.

The Victorian utility is the first outside the UK to adopt the cloud-based software Aptumo, which was developed by UK customer engagement company Echo Software Services.

Coliban Water Chief Information Officer Amanda Finnis said the business wanted a platform that could adapt to its needs, now and in the future.

“We needed an information management system that is easy to use, provides accurate data, has rich reporting capabilities and allows our customers to engage with us how and when they want,” Finnis said.

“We also wanted to generate efficiencies throughout the business to allow us headspace for innovation.”

The software can be used as a standalone customer billing platform or integrated into a utility’s customer relationship management (CRM) system.

Echo Director Andy Mack said Aptumo was developed to help utilities maintain positive relationships with customers by personalising the billing experience.

“This is a vital consideration as companies and regulators look to place customers at the heart of services,” Mack said.

“Customers are increasingly comparing the experience they have with their water company to the experience they have with other everyday service providers such as banks, retailers, telecoms and insurance companies.”

Australia is Aptumo’s first market outside the UK, and Mack said the two markets are similar in that they are both regulated geographical monopoly markets.

However, he said Echo had taken into account three key differences when preparing to launch Aptumo in the Australian market.

“These include adapting to Australian laws around change of occupier and transfer of debt; the ability to disconnect customers’ water supplies; and specific rural water irrigation requirements,” Mack said.

He said Australian utilities are also still catching up when it comes to customer engagement, service excellence and digitisation.

“Competitive markets are often characterised, through necessity, by higher levels of customer service and better experiences. The water sector needs to catch up with the very best to meet rising customer expectations,” he said.

“This has been a key focus area in the UK water market throughout the last asset management period (AMP) – the five-year business plan period UK water utilities work to – and is something that water companies have concentrated on in their business plans for the next AMP period from 2020 to 2025.”

Echo previously developed RapidXtra, which is a billing solution used by one third of UK water companies.