Power surge

first_img Comments are closed. WhenPaul Archer became managing director of ScottishPower’s customer servicesdivision in 2000, he set in place a huge programme of change. This is how hekick-started itGettingit right, getting it doneDesignedby: Academee, Bollin House, Bollin Walk, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK91DPPhone: 01625 543600 Fax 01625 540541www.Academee.come-mail: [email protected] five households in the UK is a ScottishPower customer. Formed in 1989 toprepare for competition in a deregulated utilities market, it went public in1991 and became the first UK power firm to buy a rival when it acquired Manweband the first to buy a water company with the acquisition of Southern Water.With its purchase of PacifiCorp in 1999, ScottishPower became the first non-USentity to acquire a utility in the States. Morerecently, ScottishPower has also launched a telecoms company called Thus. Ithas also expanded its retail network and is becoming the UK’s largest wind farmoperator.  ChallengesInrecent years, ScottishPower customer services has been striving to meet thechallenges of privatisation, deregulation and an increasingly competitivemarket.  Variousinitiatives had been introduced to address these issues, but when Paul Archertook up his role, he realised that what customer services really needed was along-term strategy for change that would attract and retain more satisfiedcustomers.  LeadershipStyleArcherprefers to be called “chief dispenser of enthusiasm” rather than managingdirector, and his energy is boundless. His vision is for ScottishPower’scustomer service to become a byword for excellence.  Hesays, “Organisations should be designed around the needs of their customers.People should aim high, be innovative and take risks in order to achieve theirgoals. Our aim is for everyone in customer services to become part of onewinning team, without geographical or hierarchical division.”Workingwith expertsTofacilitate and drive this process, ScottishPower began working with Academee.As experts in change management and learning, Academee helped them understandwhere change was required. It then expanded this to advise on how to ensure ithappened.  JonathanWilson, one of the Academee consultants working on the project, says, “Part ofour work with ScottishPower is about improving systems and processes, and thatis central to the change programme.“Themain reason for doing this is so they become enablers for people to provideexcellent customer service. You can have the best systems in the world, but ifyour people aren’t motivated and trained, and your communication is poor, yourcustomers won’t benefit.”Archeragrees. “Academee brings a wealth of experience gained through the work it hasdone in developing customer-focused organisations. Its consultants challengeexisting methods and provide an independent, objective view for the wayforward.”  CommunicationThefirst step that ScottishPower and Academee took was to launch a programme ofconsultation for everyone working in customer services.  Earlyconversations with hundreds of people at open forums established some keythemes:–Overall customer service needed to be improved–Training and development were an important part of making it happen–People wanted simpler systems and procedures to enable improved service andbetter planning–Communication and teamworking had to be enhanced and a culture of trustestablished–Quality had to be put above quantity  Wilsonsays, “It was important that we started by listening. Over 700 opportunitiesand ideas for improvement came out of these forums. There was clearly a lot ofenergy in the organisation, but some of it was misdirected, leading tofrustration.  “It’simportant to focus this energy from the outset so we can respond quickly andbuild momentum.”  InJune 2000, the “Wall of Pledges” was launched. It had 19 bricks, each onerepresenting a pledge from senior management to address key issues raised throughthe open forums. Each brick became the responsibility of a “business champion”,and by September, the wheels of change were rolling.  Archersays, “We saw the results from this quite quickly. For instance, the billingbacklog, which had become a barrier to great customer service, was reduced by80 per cent. The number of outbound calls across ScottishPower’s four callcentres was also lowered. Staffing issues were being addressed. And, perhapsmost importantly, communication was improving. “Ourorganisation was becoming less hierarchical, and teams were working togethermore effectively.”Changethrough peopleAta second round of forums, Archer talked about the roles of everyone in theorganisation in creating change.   Keythemes were prioritised and 150 people signed up to make a contribution tocreating a new organisation. Cross-functional teams were then set up with otherdivisions to encourage joined-up thinking. Archersays, “In this competitive environment, we need to harness all the intellectualand emotional energy we can. This has been supported by leadership andteambuilding events, mainly for senior managers, which are beginning to have apositive impact on the culture and behaviours within customer services.”Somenew managers have been appointed who have helped to invigorate theorganisation.  Archersays, “We’re moving away from what was a management-led approach.Decision-making needs to take place as near as possible to the customer, somanagers should be supporting the people on the frontline.”FuturefocusHavingfacilitated workshops and development events mainly for senior managers,Academee is working in partnership with ScottishPower to develop a training anddevelopment strategy for the whole department.Wilsonsays, “Training and development is a key strategic tool.  Everyone needs to understand the drivers forchange and how the change will impact on them. They need to understand whatgreat customer service is, and how to achieve it. We need to develop the rightknowledge, skills and behaviours to make it happen. We also need to create aculture which supports this.”ScottishPower’scustomer services revolution will not happen overnight. The current transitionprogramme spans a two-year period.ScottishPower’scustomer services revolution can be seen in four stages: review, reform, renew,reinvent. The stages overlap. The review is complete and the reformation iswell under way. Renewal has also begun, ignited by some of the key appointmentsfrom outside. But the reinvention is really just beginning.Archerconcludes, “These initiatives, and the entire change programme, are takingplace amid fierce business pressures which won’t go away.  “Weovercome this by continually setting ourselves tough challenges and highideals. In this way we ensure that we continue to drive through the changesnecessary to compete at the highest level.”VerdictKeeping customers satisfiedTheprogramme focused on several key performance indicators. In customer services,across call centres, billing and credit management, there are hundreds ofdaily, weekly and monthly KPIs which are tracked, all of which are important.As a result of the programme, and in addition to an initiative called One andDone, which is about first call resolution – satisfying the customer’s needswith one phone call – there has been an improvement in KPIs.–More customers satisfied in the space of one call– The number of bills with estimated meter readings has been decreased– Aged debt has been brought down demonstrably– Regulated complaints down by 25 per centOverallrating ****Key: * disappointing excellent ***** Power surgeOn 1 Jun 2001 in Personnel Today Previous Article Next Article Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more