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British Gas Implements Centralized Document Management


British Gas (part of the Centrica group) is a leading energy supplier to Britain’s domestic and business market segments. The energy supplier provides gas and electricity services to 7.5 million residential accounts and 3.1 million service customers. Because the company operates in a highly competitive market, consistently achieving high levels of customer service is of critical importance.

In recent years, British Gas has invested in systems and people to improve customer service. A key element of this is the ability to provide information to front-line agents to enhance their ability to deal with customer enquiries quickly and effectively.

The Challenge

Mark Cobley, manager, Integrated Correspondence Information Systems, British Gas, explains that while Customer Services Advisors have access to the SAP Billing and CRM systems, a number of additional disparate systems are used to access customer correspondence.

Furthermore, the systems do not provide an exact view of the letter sent to the customer. Customer enquiries were taking longer to handle, and on occasion, the call had to be transferred to another staff member.

“Our Energy Supply business receives over 200,000 calls each week from customers to discuss their energy accounts,” Cobley explains. “Our Service and Repair business can receive 160,000 calls per week from customers wanting to book a boiler service or repair, particularly during the autumn and winter months. Yet our front-line service teams were not able to instantly retrieve an exact image of customer correspondence, such as energy bills, to enable customer enquiries to be dealt with in a timely manner.

“We wanted to give our customer service representatives instant access to relevant documents including gas and electricity bills, non-payment debt-related letters, and inbound letters received from our customers.”


British Gas selected Crawford Technologies PRO Archiver and the OpenText™ Documentum™ platform to provide a centralized electronic document management solution which has improved the customer experience. All outbound letters, including energy bills, debt collection correspondence, connection letters, and similar critical customer communications, are automatically archived from the print center. In total, the solution archives and manages approximately 330 million documents with approximately 87 million added per annum, enabling customer service staff to access these at the click of a button on the CRM system.

Similarly, inbound letters are scanned and a copy loaded into the archive in addition to the copy sent into the back office for action.

5,000 British Gas customer services personnel based across six contact centers use this solution to view the information required to resolve customer queries. “British Gas has joined forces with Sainsbury’s, the British-based supermarket chain, to supply customers under the Sainsbury’s Energy brand,” Cobley states, “where customers often signup in the store, and the signed contracts are captured on a sales tablet and transferred into the Documentum repository.”

Improving Customer Service Levels

Cobley points out the substantial customer and staff experience improvements that have resulted from the implementation. “First, because customer service personnel have the right information at their fingertips, they are able to reduce the amount of time on the telephone with each customer. The integration provides our staff with an exact view-in full colour of every bill or letter. Prior to this, many of our documents were viewed in SAP; while this contained the information, it was in a different format.” An example of the feedback received states, this system gives you the ability to talk to customers about their bills and letters with confidence. For the first time, we can see the exact information contained on the bill and can easily refer to it in our conversations.”

Online Presentment and Self Service

About 8000 Customers every day view summary statements and another 2000 download their correspondence and bills via the customer website. The online portal reduces the load on call center staff and improves customer satisfaction through self-service.

Of the 330 million documents sent each day approximately 80,000 of the total remain as digital only copies which results in saving in printing and postage of approximately £3million each year.

Meeting Compliance Requirements

Cobley notes that the solution will also enable the company to meet its compliance obligations. “The current processes in place for meeting the regulations set out by the Financial Services Authority which apply to our Service and Repair business were often time consuming, but now correspondence is available at the touch of a button.

“The solution is useful for auditing, proving a history of paper-based and email correspondence between British Gas and the customer is available.”

EMC and CrawfordTech Consulting for Best Practice

Finally, Cobley states that British Gas relied on CrawfordTech Consulting Services to get the most out of the solution. “When we selected the solution, we started with a pilot program. It helped us with the solution installation and implementation as well as the knowledge transfer to ensure that our internal project and support teams gained the skills required to maintain and enhance the system. We wanted to make certain that we were using the CrawfordTech PRO Archiver solution and the OpenText™ Documentum™ platform optimally.

“The pilot approach also helped us to ensure that the solution would be acceptable to the larger user community,” continues Cobley.”By using a pilot, we could iron out any issues that might have been encountered before going live. We also knew that if our pilot team liked the new solution, its use would spread throughout the organization. As it turned out, they the solution very much, and it was quickly adopted by the rest of the relevant staff.

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