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Capturing an emerging market: innovative customer contact gives British gas an edge in smart meter technology.


For the millions of customers served by British Gas across Scotland, Wales and England, Smart Meter technology represented a shift in efficiency and cost savings by allowing consumers to see exactly how much energy they are using at any point in time. With Smart Meters, companies record the consumption of both gas and electricity by a household (or organization) and then communicate that information back to utility companies for monitoring and billing purposes.


To fully support the rollout of this new technology to its customers, including communicating benefits and changes, answering questions, and setting appointments, British Gas focused on four main areas of customer support:

1. Appointment booking

2. Integrated planning and scheduling

3. Advanced data capture for field teams

4. Comprehensive inbound/outbound contact handling


During the 1990s, British Gas outsourced its meter-reading appointment booking to a number of third parties. The Smart Meters program allowed British Gas to bring this activity back in-house and transfer all outbound appointment booking and planning duties from its outsourced partners to in-house teams. British Gas was also able to introduce "blended agents" into its BGSM contact center to maximize agent productivity and occupancy. BGSM blended agents are trained to handle both inbound and outbound contacts--and may handle outbound appointment booking calls, inbound appointment-changing calls, and calls from customers who have received letters and wish to set up an appointment within a single work session.


British Gas selected Aspect Unified IP as its core inbound/outbound contact handling solution, a unified, next-generation contact center platform including call blending, outbound campaign management and natural language speech recognition, as well as unified communications (UC) and collaboration functionality. With powerful call-routing capabilities in place, inbound calls from customers wishing to set or change appointments could be quickly and efficiently routed to available agents. Self-service functionality reduced the agents' workflow and improved customer satisfaction by supplying recorded information when needed and directing customers to a live agent when necessary.

Aspect Advanced Voice Portal employed automatic speech recognition to confirm the identity of callers before routing the customer to an agent for assistance, arming agents with the customer's information in order to resolve issues in the most efficient manner possible. This system was also tightly integrated to British Gas's SAP work management platform, creating a fully automated solution that optimized agents' time and streamlined workflows.

With this powerful range of customer contact applications British Gas was able to take advantage of the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity presented by BGSM operation to improve brand perception and strengthen relationships.

Implementing a highly integrated customer contact solution to support this transition has had a significant impact on both inbound and outbound activities, including:

* Dramatically fewer "no-access" visits to customers' homes

* Increased dials per hour by more than 40 percent

* Improved agent occupancy

* Enhanced customer experiences

* Faster and more accurate management decision making

These benefits helped propel British Gas into the arena of Smart Meter technology ahead of the competition, equipping its entire enterprise and 180-agent contact center with streamlined capabilities necessary for connecting with customers and delivering exceptional service.

"Because our inbound and outbound calls are broadly on the same topic, it's a perfect scenario for call blending. Blending has helped us better manage peaks and troughs in contact volumes and that has had a dramatic impact on agent occupancy. Agents like the system, as well, because they have a consistent workload throughout each day--avoiding the manic periods and the lulls."

--Dave Lister, Head of Service Development, British Gas

About Aspect

Aspect is the only software company with a fully-integrated interaction and workforce optimization platform for enterprise contact centers globally that need to profitably (and seamlessly) orchestrate people, processes and touch points in an era when the contact center is the new center of the customer experience. For more information, visit
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Title Annotation:Sponsored Content
Publication:CRM Magazine
Date:Jul 1, 2013
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