London, UK – 26th April, 2006 – DST International Billing, the leading provider of innovative customer management and open billing solutions to the utility industry, today announced that its client, Sutton & East Surrey Water plc, has been awarded the Best CIS (Customer Information System) Initiative in Europe for 2005/06 by the US based Utility Planning Network’s (UPN) Utility ACE awards for CIS/CRM Excellence.
This award is in recognition of Sutton and East Surrey Water’s Virtual Call Centre, which is underpinned by DST International’s corporate billing system (http://www.dstinternational.com/) and integrated with speech recognition technology from Fluency Voice Technology (http://www.fluencyvoice.com/).
The system has improved payment efficiencies through greater customer access.
The competition organised by the Utility Planning Network through the Utility CIS/CRM Consortium, is a cross industry effort with representatives from investor owned and public gas, water and electrical utilities.
Sutton and East Surrey Water plc is based in Redhill, Surrey and has developed a strong internal culture for innovation, leadership and excellence. It prides itself on constantly being at the cutting edge of development in particular applying this to continually drive customer service levels higher. It was this focus on improving customer service that led the team to boost its already very efficient call centre with a speech-enabled solution from Fluency Voice Technology integrated with the HiAffinity billing system from DST International. The goal was to develop a “Virtual Call Centre Environment” to introduce an even higher level of efficiency while reducing costs.
Phil Holder, Sutton and East Surrey Water plc Managing Director, noted, “We pride ourselves on constantly being on the cutting edge of development in particular to continually drive our customer service levels higher. We wanted to develop a ‘Virtual Call Centre Environment’ that would introduce an extraordinary level of efficiency and in turn improve customer service. Fluency’s voice technology combined with DSTi’s proven HiAffinity billing solution offered the flexibility and scalability needed to deliver this project while keeping capital costs down.”
Nick Fisher, Sutton and East Surrey Water plc Finance Director, said, “Cost savings from integrating Fluency speech recognition with DSTi’s HiAffinity were measurable. The combined savings per transaction and reduction in cost per call have significantly reduced the costs of processing bill payments. At the same time that we lowered our costs, the automated system efficiency in payments increased. The new system offers improved access 24×7 giving our customers the ability to pay at their own convenience.”
Simon Patterson, COO of DST International Billing, comments, “This is an excellent achievement for Sutton and East Surrey Water and highly deserved. HiAffinity has helped them deliver excellent levels of customer service and reduce costs. The integration with Fluency’s voice recognition solution provided the rational answer and created a measurable cost saving whilst further improving customer services.”
About The Utility Planning Network (UPN)
Founded in 1993, UPN (formerly known as EPN) operates a consortium of North America’s largest commercial and industrial energy buyers and utility companies. The Utility ACE Program received entries from utilities based in Australia, Africa, Asia, Europe, United States, South America and Canada.
About Sutton and East Surrey Water plc
Sutton and East Surrey Water plc is a water utility company based in Redhill, UK. They supply water to 262,000 customers over an area of 733 square miles, including London Gatwick International Airport in the south east of England.
About DST International (DSTi)
With 19 offices and over 1500 professionals to support its growing client base, DST International provides a unique and comprehensive range of investment management and business process management software solutions and utility billing services to 700 clients in 55 countries.
About Fluency Voice Technology
Fluency Voice Technology is a leading provider of packaged speech recognition applications for use in call centres. Our solutions enable enterprises to significantly reduce costs and enhance customer service by automating much of the high volume call centre activities.