In the age of “Artisan Bread” and “Hand Crafted” beers, there are some things in life that is a little more reassuring to leave in the hands of a system. Energy bills fall firmly into the latter category. But, it’s not always the reality. Without a proper handle on industry data, it’s not unusual for manual intervention during the billing run, or for accounts to simply be left as unbilled and the underlying problem unresolved.
This week we take a closer look at challenges in energy billing, and how automation and intelligent systems can make life easier.
In a complex industry such as ours the need for standard processes, automation and systemised identification of exceptions has never been more critical, and as pressure on supplier margins continues to increase, the operational and financial benefits that this can bring becomes more and more relevant.
Where data is available and fit for purpose, billing customers for the energy they use is relatively straight forward. But it’s not unusual for energy suppliers to regularly carry a large percentage of their portfolios as “unbilled”, supported by a significant operational overhead dedicated to managing it. With effective systems and processes in place, people can be used as the exception and not the rule, but the converse is also true – without the right system, it’s take more people to solve the same problem.
So what can be done?
By keeping systematic data reconciliation and validation at the core of your business, human intervention can be used to maximum effect in working through the true exceptions, and those with the greatest value, rather than simply keeping the wheels on the bus.
Real life is not consistent or in sequence, nor is the data in the energy industry, so a true billing solution must accommodate for the disorder, and have inherent flexibility built into every process. By catering for variation from the “happy path” you can greatly reduce the need for manual intervention.
Systems are only as good as the person who writes them, but by understanding the critical data required to bill a customer, and by facing up to the fact that these items won’t always arrive in the same order, you’ll start to see billing problems as an opportunity for automation and a real chance to do things better. Freeing up your people’s time to focus on problems of real value has a huge impact right across the business.
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