Sutton and East Surrey Water Plc is an independent supplier of water. Its catchment area spans an area 332 miles square, containing more than 630,000 people."Experian Data Quality software will supply us with a much needed method of efficiently updating, validating, and maintaining the integrity and concurrency of our address information."
Sutton and East Surrey Water Plc is an independent supplier of water. Its catchment spans an area 322 miles square, containing more than 630,000 people, across East Surrey as well as parts of West Sussex, Kent and South London.
But no matter where it is located, the success of a modern water company depends largely on the effectiveness of its customer relations. Sutton and East Surrey Water is no exception, says Nigel Hammond, the company’s customer accounts manager. "We have 30 full-time agents dealing with customer calls, emails, and correspondence. These log customer contact, answer customer queries, process customer requests for change of payments, house moves, change of tariff, work requests, and complaints. Clearly, getting and keeping correct details on those customers is paramount to enable agents to effectively fulfil these functions."
Improving data accuracy
For some years, the company used a billing software system which, says Hammond, was eventually judged not to be delivering all the benefits a modern system should.
After completing an OJEC procurement process, billing system supplier DST International (DSTi) was appointed to provide a new Microsoft Windows based system called HiAffinity. The latest phase of the HiAffinity project, which integrates address capture into the application, promises to truly revolutionise Sutton and East Surrey Water’s ability to capture and keep accurate customer details.
Hammond explains "The Experian Data Quality software will supply us with a much needed method of efficiently updating, validating, and maintaining the integrity and concurrency of our address information."
Accessing the Royal Mail's Postcode Address File (PAF), address capture works by using only minimal data to capture a full address and paste it into the underlying application. This means only a postcode and premise number are needed to generate a complete, correctly formatted address.
Hammond says Experian Data Quality was recommended by DSTi as the most appropriate address management software for its business needs. "An added benefit is the ability to validate addresses throughout the UK, particularly useful when customers move away from the area and have to be contacted on the matter of closing accounts," he enthuses.
Cleaning and updating legacy data
But first Sutton and East Surrey Water will use another Experian Data Quality product, address cleaning, to clean their existing address database. The tool cleans and enhances existing name and address records, in other words those that predate the use of address capture. The cleaning tool verifies postcodes and addresses, amending them where incorrect or incomplete and adding the missing elements. All addresses can then be output in a standard format.
Hammond explains "DSTi have an extraction program which will unload all the addresses to allow verification by adddress cleaning. In our initial test exercise, only 66 per cent of addresses matched PAF. The software at once took this up to 88 per cent in ‘high confidence’ match types."
Once cleaned, the addresses will be reloaded to the HiAffinity database. "Going forward, Sutton and East Surrey Water will use Experian Data Quality software to maintain both customer billing and supply addresses in order to achieve faster, more cost-effective mailing with reduced returns," says Hammond. "In addition, we’ll end up with fewer customer queries resulting from incorrect address data as well as an overall increase in agent efficiency. Better address information will also help with tasks such as periodic reporting, both in-house and regulatory, and forecasting and planning."