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Anglian Water Plugging the Leak

In the last financial year, Anglian Water estimated it lost around two percent of its annual revenue as a result of customers who failed to pay their bills. Considering that in the last financial year Anglian Water turned over about £1bn, that two percent worked out at about £20 million.

As a result Anglian Water decided to invest in their IT infrastructure to help minimise the lost revenue which it says can, if the losses are eradicated over the next two to three years, save customers £11 off the bills that are sent out.

Customer service director for Anglian Water, Martyn Oakley, said that the company was under pressure from its shareholders, customers and OFWAT to collect as much of the debt as possible and as a result had to investigate every means available to bring the figures down.

“It is certainly not going to get any easier in the current economic climate, especially as there is no sanction of disconnection with water supplies. We have fundamentally large proportions of debtors that owe us money now who are still using the product, thereby generating still more debt all the time,” he says.

One of the primary problems that faced Anglian Water was how to extract data from its SAP IS-U customer care system, a system developed specifically for utilities companies, about bad debtors.

In an effort to speed things up and minimise the the amount of lost customer details that slipped through the net, Anglian Water introduced the SAP billing system along with Experians Tallyman debt collection management software with the aid of systems integrators CSC.

“The key thing was configurability – the debt system needed to be flexible enough for us to change the strategy around the way we collect debt, and SAP was too hard and inflexible in this area,” says Oakley.

“Tallyman puts the agent in control, with all the key facts on a single screen, making it easier for us to test and change strategies.”

“We cannot quote a number on the bad debts [recovered] yet, but we believe we will see a return from the financial perspective in the first few months,” says Oakley.

“What we can say is that within a couple of weeks of going live we were able to trace around 30,000 customers through the various debt collection agencies we use. And whereas previously we would have to have manually updated all of that information using the billing system, it is now a simple upload through Tallyman and we have closed maybe two to two and a half months’ worth of debt recovery delay as a result.”