Centrica was formed in 1997 following its de-merger from British Gas plc (now BG plc). Centrica is now the parent company of a number of utility based businesses. The Centrica vision is to become a leading integrated energy company in its chosen markets committed to delivering top quartile shareholder returns. It uses strong brands and distinctive assets and capabilities to achieve success in the UK, North America and Western Europe markets. One of those strong brands is British Gas.
Under the Centrica umbrella, British Gas undertook one of the largest CRM migration projects of its time in 2002. The project involved migrating 20 million customer records into Siebel. In a migration project of this scale, good data quality is essential and Experian Data Quality’ point of capture address validation tool, QAS Pro, was chosen in conjunction with the new CRM system.
In 2007, Centrica decided to upgrade its version of QAS Pro to take advantage of the new features and datasets. The project was designed to reduce operational costs and improve some of the key business processes that were put in place with the original implementation.
One of Centrica’s main objectives was to reduce the amount of exceptions generated from the sales channels that prevented customer sign-up. When a new customer contacts British Gas to switch over their supply, vital details such as name, address and meter point number (MPRN) must be collected.
This becomes problematic when you have a number of properties sharing the same postal address, such as apartment buildings. Each property has its own meter so it’s essential to identify the sub-premise information (i.e. 5 Main St, Apt 1) to sign up new customers effectively.
The exceptions were mainly created due to the agents being unable to locate the MPRN or sub-premise information during the initial call. Exceptions delayed the sale from passing through in the seven day cooling-off period, during which a customer can decide to cancel their agreement. This prolonged the customer address acquisition process and impacted Centrica’s revenue through lost ‘days on supply’.
Centrica also wanted to use the project to refresh its prospect database. This would support future marketing activities and ensure that the most complete and accurate prospect records are given to the sales channels, thus increasing opportunities to sell.
The project involved working with Experian Data Quality consultants to change the integration so that Centrica’s CRM system used the new QAS Pro software. The consultants also configured the software so that when people were entering contact information, it was as user friendly as possible.
After just one month, Centrica was already seeing some good results from the Experian Data Quality product. Eddie Edwards, Data Manager at Centrica, comments: “We received a lot of support from Experian Data Quality, who were always available to provide assistance and expertise.”
“Previously, missing sub-premise information had affected up to 35% of our address searches in some postcode areas. Using QAS Pro, we have seen an impressive reduction in the number of properties that our Field Sales representatives are unable to locate, due to missing subpremise information.”
“This is fantastic as it means we can more easily match customers to their MPRN number and get them signed up quicker, which has really helped to boost our customer numbers.”
There have also been significant improvements in sales exception processing and an uplift in data quality, with more accurate prospect and sales information being inputted to the marketing database. This, in turn, has increased the accuracy of Centrica’s mailings, which has resulted in fewer accounts falling into arrears and the collections process.
Having the most up-to-date software across the IT infrastructure was paramount to Centrica. Using the latest software from Experian Data Quality has enabled it to standardize processes used across the British Gas infrastructure.