Industry experience and distinctive capabilities prepare a municipal utility to enhance customer service while generating substantial efficiency improvements

The client is a large municipal utility in the Southwest United States. It provides sustainable, affordable water and wastewater services to more than one million customers.

Balancing service and efficiency
This municipal utility faces continual pressures to invest in core infrastructure for quality of life and economic development, develop new water supplies, and operate more efficiently.

The utility’s preliminary analysis revealed some opportunities to improve operational efficiency and reduce costs while maintaining or enhancing service levels. Recognizing that it would need a more in-depth operational efficiency review and improvement plan, the utility turned to West Monroe Partners, which offered distinctive capabilities in customer experience and operations excellence, as well as deep utility industry experience. Through this effort, the utility wanted to:

  • Identify organizational, process, and technology improvement opportunities that result in cost savings
  • Create a business case and financial analysis for recommended improvements
  • Develop an implementation plan that prioritized initiatives and identified quick wins

Five areas of focus
West Monroe Partners focused the assessment on several key areas:

  • Current management structure
  • Overall organization structure
  • Customer Service process improvements
  • Utility-wide optimization
  • Remittance processing

From assessment to action ready
West Monroe Partners interviewed utility executives to understand their perspectives about the Customer Service function and to develop the support necessary for change. These interviews produced clear and consistent feedback, which, in turn, served as input for a meter-to-cash maturity model—a tool that West Monroe Partners developed to evaluate current customer service operations and future vision through the lenses of strategy, people, process, and technology. West Monroe Partners then:

  • Facilitated visioning workshops with the utility’s senior executives and Customer Service leaders
  • Collaborated with the Customer Service management team to develop a meter-to-cash vision that encompasses customer care, billing, collections, and field operations
  • Identified initiatives required to achieve the vision
  • Prioritized initiatives that will produce the greatest benefit according to the effort and investment required
  • Created a detailed road map for implementing the vision

Ultimately, this work produced a comprehensive plan, comprising 19 recommended initiatives that will improve customer service and increase efficiency—with the largest potential value coming in three areas:

  • Restructuring the organization, including both realignment and outsourcing opportunities
  • Enhancing collection activities
  • Streamlining and consolidating customer centers
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