CASE STUDY: Severn Trent Water turns on identity management to achieve billing accuracy for 3.7m households

 Published: Tuesday January 19, 2010

 Written by GBG News on Investor News

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LONDON – 18 January 2010 – In the interim announcement on 25th November 2009, GB announced that it had recently won a seven year contract with the world’s fourth largest water company to supply identity-based address management services. This long term strategic deal had been built up over the course of the previous year during which GB had undertaken a number of assignments with Severn Trent Water (STW), the success of which led to the strategic relationship.  A case study which describes one of these assignments, and which has now been approved by STW, is set out below.  This case study demonstrates GB’s strategy of establishing a footholding and growing major accounts.

STW has achieved its meter reading accuracy target a mere six months after implementing identity management services from GB. STW is now well on the way to achieving DG8 (the meter reading regulation set by OFWAT) and ensuring billing accuracy of 99.85% for its metered customers, avoiding under or overpaid bills and tying in to STW’s strategic targets to improve service in this area.

With around 1.2 million consumer water meters across a region covering approximately 21,000 square kilometres, STW faced a challenge: reading its customers’ meters in a more efficient manner.  The company’s target is to read all of its meters every year.  Regular meter reading ensures that water bills are as accurate as possible and is a fundamental part of customer service at STW.

During the six-month test phase, GB had to optimise a range of challenging meter reading routes, selected by STW, matching individuals’ identities to addresses and ordering the route for visiting those addresses to maximise efficiency. Experts at GB matched the data against the Royal Mail’s Postcode Address File (PAF®), added geo-codes for geographical locations and then grouped the records together in the most efficient way to find the optimal route between the different points. Halving the number of unsequenced reads was a key goal. Through continuous testing and optimisation, GB met this target.

“To provide excellent customer service, our target is to read all meters at least once a year as this means customers are being billed accurately,” says Con Rooney, STW’s General Manager of Customer Relations Field Services. “With up to 60,000 new meters being installed every year, it is a significant challenge with multiple variables.”

“GB was the only supplier willing to get out there with our meter readers to view the challenges first-hand,” adds Rooney. “By using GB’s Identity Management services and providing optimised meter reading routing, we were able to comply with regulatory requirements and achieve our target of reading and billing 99.85% of our metered consumers during the six-month period.”

“At GB we have always been committed to exceptional customer service, not only between us and our partners but also between our partners and their customers,” says Richard Law, CEO at GB. “STW shared this commitment and, therefore, to achieve this and help our client meet its business objectives, it was important for us to fully understand its specific challenges and always go the extra mile to show the tangible value of identity management.”

“The size of the utility industry and number of customers that STW deals with on a daily basis demanded a technology partner who met STW’s very specific requirements. This role also required the partner to deliver value to STW’s customers, while allowing STW itself to focus on what matters most: transparency and a commitment to improve services, working with GB Group to underpin this effort.” adds Law. 

The success of the pilot project has since led to a contract being signed by another part of STW which GB announced in November 2009. As part of this deal, GB’s solution will feature in STW’s new SAP-based IT platform and will offer address data together with accurate geo-locational identification techniques to be applied to all STW’s meters – even those without postal addresses and not yet built.  The system spans thousands of the company’s employees, allowing the processing of a wide range of business functions.  The service is delivered by web services, therefore, requiring no additional hardware on STW’s premises.

Future plans include further work on optimising rural routes and maximising efficiency on high frequency commercial meter reading. With GB’s expertise in spatial analysis, there is also the opportunity to evaluate meter reading efficiency across the region. Rooney concludes: “STW has already realised gains in meter reading efficiency and, therefore, in customer service, regulatory compliance and also in fuel savings. There’s now a strong working partnership between GB and STW.”

About GB Group plc
GB Group is the UK’s leading identity management business. It helps organisations recognise and verify all elements of an individual’s identity at every interaction. Through the application of our proprietary technology, we enable organisations to connect, communicate and transact with people safely, responsibly and profitably.  In doing so, we help businesses like O2, Laura Ashley, HBoS, LloydsTSB, ASOS.com, Virgin Games, PartyGaming, Betfair and Ladbrokes understand their customers better to create more meaningful customer interactions – and reduce costs across the business.

GB Group is listed on the London Stock Exchange (GBG). For more information, please visit GB Group’s website: www.gb.co.uk.

GB Group - because identity matters™ 

For further information about GB’s global identity management applications, please contact  
Maxine Morgan, GB Group
Email: maxine.morgan@gb.co.uk 
Number: 01244 657333

Adrie Wessels, Bite Communications
Email: adrie.wessels@bitecommunications.com 
Number:  020 8834 3474