As many water utilities strive to improve their customers’ experience, giving them more choice about how and when they interact with their utility can be a daunting task. Aptumo, however, is the billing solution that rises to, and exceeds, that challenge.
Richard Harris, General Manager at Aptumo Australia Pty Ltd, said “The UK water sector has benefited from the expertise behind Aptumo for over two decades, so I’m really pleased to be able to offer the same to the Australian water industry. Having established a base here in Australia, Aptumo can transform billing for Australian water utilities too.”
That’s a significant claim but Richard’s comments aren’t just empty words. As part of Echo Managed Services in the UK, Aptumo is a billing solution that has been created by the water industry, for the water industry. Echo currently provides billing solutions for a third of water suppliers in the UK, so its heritage means it has an unparalleled billing knowledge of the water industry.
“The water sector is changing” Richard continued “In an industry where opportunities to engage with the customer are limited, it is essential that every customer contact is a good experience for both the customer and the staff at the utility. The billing process is the most obvious place to start. With Aptumo, a utility can simplify that process while improving the customer experience and reducing the cost to serve”.
Even though it’s still a relatively new name in the Australian water market, Aptumo has already completed its first successful implementation at Coliban Water. Its second, at North East Water, is also well underway.
Monica Mackintosh, MD at Echo Managed Services, says Aptumo has a unique value proposition.
“In its simplest form Aptumo can stand alone as a billing solution or integrate with a utility’s preferred client relationship management system (CRM). However, being native to the Salesforce platform, Aptumo can also offer utilities some distinct advantages. Integration between Salesforce and Aptumo is unnecessary, updates are automatic so cause little or no disruption to the business, and Salesforce has rich customer functionality. Most importantly it is, effectively, 'future proof' given the massive investment Salesforce makes every year in functionality and new acquisitions. Together, Aptumo and Salesforce can become an integral part of a utility’s digital roadmap.”
CRM is no longer an 'optional' that only companies operating in a competitive market need to think about. Knowing your customer and successful customer engagement are essential to drive customer satisfaction and lower the cost to serve. This is the challenge the Aptumo team set for itself; the outcome is a billing solution that is customer, rather than property, centric, and is ideally suited to leverage the rich functionality of a world class CRM.
Richard continued “Customer expectations have evolved so the way the water industry operates has to change as well. Broadly speaking, goods and services can be bought and paid for in different ways and customers, rightly, expect to be able to choose the method that suits them. Being customizable means that a water utility that uses Aptumo can give customers access to options to personalize how they engage: how they keep track of their service usage, how they pay, how their bill is presented. Aptumo can give utility customers all the options they experience in their other service providers”.
The extent of customer data available to service agents who use Aptumo also helps to make interaction with customers much easier. A full 3600 view of a customer’s circumstances allows them to handle issues or enquiries quickly, and before they escalate into something more serious. Richard said “The comprehensive, personalised data set agents can refer to when dealing with a customer is one of Aptumo’s key characteristics. Preferences or specific requirements can be identified, helping the utility to tailor their service to meet the needs of the customer. If there are issues of vulnerability, for example, or where financial support may be needed, even over just the short term. This level of awareness can change how a customer perceives their water supplier; they are no longer just a number, but a valued customer”.
Aptumo also enables suppliers to embrace the ultimate move to digital interactions for both businesses and customers. We all know that smartphones and other mobile devices were beginning to play a more significant role in our daily lives, but a global pandemic and the unprecedented restriction of movement that came in its wake has served to hasten the transition from 'personal and sometimes virtual', to 'virtual and sometimes personal'. For many, that 'sometimes personal' is becoming more of an inconvenience as they try to catch up with lives compromised by the pandemic.
According to Andy Mack, Product Director at Echo Managed Services
“Even just a few years ago talking about a 'digital roadmap' for a business sounded a bit futuristic for many, but today it’s the reality for all of us. Customers, too, have become more tech-savvy. They have greater service expectations in the virtual space and they know that it should mean a better, faster service for them.
If a business gets it right, it can also mean a reduced cost to serve. Our aim is for Aptumo to help utilities drive their digital plans forward by putting the most important component, the customer, right at the very heart of it”.
Legacy systems are often cited as the reason for falling standards of service, relying on complicated 'workarounds' to deliver even the simplest of transactions because major system updates become financially unviable, unavailable, and/or are incompatible with the utility’s digital strategy. Andy continued “Making Aptumo native to Salesforce was a conscious decision in the development process. Salesforce is the world’s leading CRM and together with Aptumo it provides a flexible, scalable, future proof billing solution that understands the challenges the water sector faces”.