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The Hongkong Electric Co. Ltd (HEC) is one of the longest-established power companies in the world.
It supplies electricity to more than half a million residential, industrial and commercial customers on Hong Kong Island and Lamma Island.
This major public utility teamed with Accenture to achieve significant improvements in its customer service in an efficient and cost-effective manner that would help the company position itself as a world-class electricity utility—raising the standard of service well above its peers in the Asia Pacific region.
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Information technology plays a critical role in the success of HEC’s business. In the early 1990s, the company implemented an IT infrastructure that was highly customized to its operations. At the core of this infrastructure was the Digital Equipment Corp. (DEC) Virtual Address eXtension (VAX) platform. Back then, many business applications were written to the exact specifications of businesses and in line with this approach, HEC acquired fourth-generation programming language (4GL) development tools and had most of its applications developed in-house.
Achieving and sustaining high levels of customer service is a real challenge in an environment that is typically very dynamic. Accenture High Performance Business research has shown that across all industries, 33 percent of customers have higher expectations for service quality than they did one year ago, while 52 percent have higher expectations than they did five years ago1.
Furthermore, many retail utilities’ customers cited their expectation of customer service as a reason for choosing a provider and cited poor quality of service as a reason for switching providers. HEC's customers were no different, being very demanding in terms of their service expectations. HEC needed to be able to quickly and efficiently improve its services and launch new offerings on an ongoing basis—stretching its existing platform beyond its limits.
Customer care has been identified by Accenture as a key area of excellence for utility companies seeking to become high-performance businesses. In an increasingly competitive industry environment, these changing expectations can result in reduced customer satisfaction for utility companies who fail to keep pace.
In addition, HEC also needed to replace its Customer Accounting (CA) system. This system had served the company well for some 15 years, but was beginning to reach the end of its life and HEC was experiencing limitations with regard to its further development.
1 Customer Satisfaction in the Changing Global Economy: Satisfying New Requirements for High Performance. Accenture 2007 Global Customer Satisfaction Survey Report.
In a testament to Accenture’s superior delivery capability and deep industry experience, prior to HEC's engagement with Accenture, some 80 percent of the electricity bills and the majority of gas bills generated in Hong Kong came from Accenture-implemented systems. Moreover, the same amount of electricity users were served by Accenture-implemented customer information systems. With such a track record Accenture was the natural choice for HEC to team with en route to becoming a high-performance business.
Leveraging its market-leading SAP and industry experience, technical expertise and three-decade-long SAP alliance, Accenture chose to implement a customer information system based on SAP for Utilities (IS-U), Credit and Collections (CCS) and Customer Relationship Management (CRM), integrated with other solution components that are all leaders in their specific fields.
The scope of the project primarily focused on HEC's billing, customer services, device management and finance functional areas. A team of more than 100 part-time and full-time team members comprised of both client subject matter experts and Accenture professionals took responsibility for its delivery.
Accenture commenced the project work in September 2006, delivering a solution that integrated both the hardware and software required by HEC. Called Hongkong Electric Customer Information System, or HECIS, the solution included SAP, Microsoft, HP, EMC, eSoon (Genesys call center), IXOS (archiving), StreamServe (output management) and TechTrans (point of sale) components, with each one playing a pivotal role in meeting the functional, technical and operational requirements.
The first phase of the project, limited to only a portion of HEC's customers, was completed in April 2009 and the next phase—a full-scale launch to more than 500,000 customers in the company’s service base—was completed in August 2009.
The solution designed by Accenture was based on proven, industry-leading practices from both the local and international electricity markets. A solid SAP IS-U and CCS platform integrated with other leading packaged solution components allowed HEC to take advantage of a rich legacy of thousands of skilled developers from Accenture’s network of delivery centers around the world.
This flexible and agile foundation has let HEC achieve significant improvements in customer services in an efficient and cost-effective manner that will help the company position itself as a world-class electricity utility—raising the standard of service well above its peers in the Asia Pacific region:
HEC will also be able to enhance customer service and satisfaction by introducing innovative personalized services in the future—an additional competitive differentiator in the energy market where customer satisfaction is critical to sustainable success. By teaming with Accenture, HEC has laid a solid foundation from which to become a high-performance business.
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