categoryIconCo-operative Energy case study

The Challenge

Co-operative Energy selects Genfour’s digital workforce to automate it’s key business processes, and relieve pressure on its human staff. The organisation is now experiencing improved operational processing speed and quality – with lower FTE costs.

Summary

  • To handle critical business process items, Co-operative Energy’s operation teams were increasingly working out of hours and at weekends – this was also creating a backlog of other processes
  • Co-operative Energy turned to Genfour’s digital workforce to improve processing cycle times and quality – and ultimately drive an enhanced customer experience
  • Genfour worked alongside Co-operative Energy’s team to swiftly analyse, design,map and automate the Change of Occupier Process, Online customer Sign up Process and Deemed contracts process
  • Co-operative Energy is now experiencing better operational efficiencies with higher quality and shorter processing cycle times and a reduction in associated resource costs

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The Challenge

Set up by Midcounties in 2010, Co-operative Energy has achieved sales of £159 million with over 200,000 members in just 4 years. Co-operative Energy has been rapidly expanding, and is emerging as one of the major contenders to challenge the established big six energy suppliers.

To cope with an increasing customer base, Co-operative Energy decided to implement a new billing system, based on Oracle technology. In the interim, the organisation was looking for opportunities to increase efficiency and expand capacity on its legacy billing system, which had reached capacity.

However, to process work items, Co-operative Energy’s operations were working out of hours and at weekends, due to limitations of the system. The organisation assessed whether a digital workforce solution from Genfour could perform much of this work, to relieve pressure on its team. The key aim was to improve processing cycle times and quality – with the ultimate aim of an enhanced customer experience.

The Change of Occupier (COO) process was selected as an ideal candidate for the first process to be automated. A separate operational shift was required for this process, as it could only operate between the hours of 8.00 pm and 8.00 am – and at weekends. Meanwhile, the team working out of hours to administer the backlog, were falling behind on their other processes – which had reached 5000.

When we set out we wanted to be quite innovative in the way we worked and use technologies to improve the customer experience. What we found was a lot of back office processes that not only caused delays for customers, but created a really poor experience. We’ve used Genfour to create not only a speedier experience but also one that is consistent and creates a better customer experience.
Andy Springall, Head of Customer Experience, Co-operative Energy

Solution

The Genfour team worked alongside Co-operative Energy’s Industrial Queries team to analyse, design and map the process for automation. The automated process was swiftly developed on Genfour’s Autonomic Platform, with development taking just 7 days. A further 3 days was spent with Co-operative Energy’s team to UAT the process with sample data to verify the output. Overall, from Genfour’s first design discussion, to the process running live, took only 4 weeks – all work adhering to Genfour’s exacting implementation methods and design standards.

At first, Genfour’s digital worker ran on a stand-a-lone PC to help clear the backlog – operating ‘out of hours’ with Co-operative Energy’s team as they worked through the backlog. The process then moved into the virtual environment – clearing the backlog and the digital worker now administers all COOs. This has enabled Co-operative Energy’s team to revert to their normal daytime shift and moral has improved significantly. Genfour has subsequently automated the Deemed Contracts process which issues contracts to the client once the COO process have been completed – saving an additional FTE.

“The team were very happy as it meant their shifts could go back to 9-5. CoOBOT has slotted into our team, processing 5 times the amount of work per week. Quite a few of the team were getting to the point where they couldn’t go on much longer working these hours, so I think it actually saved our team.”
Hayley Gibson, Industrial Queries Team Manager, Co-operative Energy

Following the success of the COO process, Co-operative Energy engaged Genfour to automate their online Signup (SU) process ahead of a new tariff being released in July 2014. The team were processing 40 SUs per day, however were expecting 20,000 new SUs and established that they would need to employ 4 temporary staff throughout the offer period.

A Genfour developer worked alongside the Co-operative Energy SSAs Customer Service Advisor team and the process was swiftly designed, built and tested within 8 days. The Genfour digital worker processed all SUs throughout the offer period, and continues to administer all SUs now that the offer has been completed.

“When you are bringing new technologies in it can be quite challenging to bring that through
the business. One of our real points of difference when we went into this project was to make sure we could work at pace, so we fully engaged our stakeholders, particularly our IT team.”

Andy Springall, Head of Customer Experience, Co-operative Energy

Benefits

As well as enhancing Co-operative Energy’s operational efficiencies, by improving processing cycle times and quality, working with Genfour has resulted in the following processes automated & FTEs saved:

  • Change of Occupier Process – 2.5 FTE
  • Online customer Sign up Process – 0.5 FTE
  • Deemed contracts process – 1 FTE

From start to finish it took us less than 4 weeks to take the COO process from design through to test and live. Similarly with the SU process from start of design through to live took us 3 weeks. To give you an indication of the difference that made, where we had 1000 customers signing up in a day which would have taken us 3-4 days to process we were actually able to process those in 24 hours.
Andy Springall, Head of Customer Experience, Co-operative Energy

Co-operative Energy are now working closely with Genfour to identify other processes that are suitable for automation.

The relationship with Genfour and the RPA solution is definitely going to be strategic. My experience is there is always a need operationally for this kind of solution.

Neil Denley, Chief Operating Officer, Co-operative Energy