With increasing deregulation, expanding regulatory oversight, digitally driven customers, and pressure on revenues, utility companies are constantly looking for new business models and solutions. The goal is to enhance customer experience, improve self service capabilities, replace legacy Customer Information System (CIS) platforms, and enable digital payment systems. The service bureau model can provide an answer to these challenges.
A service bureau refers to any company that offers its services to other companies. The services offered allow other companies to outsource non-essential business functions that the service bureau might be able to do better, freeing up resources that can then be used for the core business functions.
In the context of energy & utility companies, a service bureau could be a powerful business model that utility companies can look at. Large utility companies can adopt this model to enable themselves with an additional revenue stream, while smaller organizations can leverage service bureaus of the larger firms to outsource their customer care and billing function. This can help them reduce costs involved in training billing SMEs in house, expensive billing systems and software. Such a model could enable organizations to collaborate with each other and benefit the entire ecosystem.
Wipro’s Service Bureau Model is a proven business model for large utility customers to spin their customer care and billing function into a revenue generating stream, making it available to other utility companies on a pay-per-use basis. Wipro’s Service Bureau approach enables utility companies to share the customer care and billing infrastructure to provide a host of services like:
- Customer care and engagement with a choice of channels such as call centers, email, social, and web
- Rate changes
- Collections/writes offs
- Payment integrations
- Self service capabilities
- Testing and billing accuracy
- Customer insights and reporting
Some of our progressive utility customers have adopted this model successfully in the US and other markets. One such example is the municipally owned and operated water utility in Ohio serving over 230,000 customers. The customer is currently running on the Oracle CCB (Customer Care & Billing) platform and has successfully adopted Wipro’s Service Bureau Model to share its billing infrastructure with other smaller utility companies in the region for water and waste water billing.
The Service Bureau Model provides a compelling and rewarding business model for both large and medium/small sized utility companies. For large companies, it results in up to 40% lower cost of ownership due to the shift from a cost-centric model to a revenue generating model. For smaller companies, utilizing an established billing platform of a larger firm helps in faster time-to-market and improved customer experience – at significantly lower costs (pay-per-use basis). The entire model itself remains compliant to government regulations.
The model is a product of Wipro’s strong expertise in the utilities domain. Wipro’s experienced consultants are helping organizations adopt the model, opening up a wide range of opportunities for these organizations to improve the bottom-line and operational efficiency.