Vocalis voice driven solutions - powering Yorkshire Electricity's
customer service and saving up to 240,000 per year
Yorkshire Electricity is one of the UK's leading providers of gas and electricity, serving the densely populated Yorkshire and Humberside regions of Britain. Faced with a changing and increasingly competitive marketplace, Yorkshire Electricity is always seeking new ways to maximise income without compromising customer satisfaction.
With over two million customers, Yorkshire Electricity needs to ensure that it can handle all client enquiries and transactions quickly, efficiently and cost-effectively. As the company receives hundreds of thousands of telephone calls every year, this was proving a considerable challenge. Yorkshire Electricity sought a solution that could automate the customer handling process, freeing call centre agents to concentrate on more complex tasks and requests. It was also important that any new solution that was introduced should integrate with the existing infrastructure to maximise functionality.
The Vocalis voice driven solution
In 1995, the company decided to explore different methods of handling the self-assessed meter reading process, whereby customers call the company to submit an up-to-date meter reading. Under the existing system, call centre agents handled these calls from start to finish at an approximate cost of 1.25 per call and took approximately 3 minutes to complete. After examining a variety of automated systems, the company decided to implement an integrated IVR / voice driven solution based on Vocalis' proprietary, best of breed technology, SpeechWare.
SpeechWare is based on years of research and development into speech recognition technology and allows Yorkshire Electricity customers to interact with its automated system in the easiest way possible - using natural voice commands - as well as complementing the alternative touch-tone data entry system.
During the implementation, Yorkshire Electricity and Vocalis worked together to optimise the speech recognition for the task in hand. This included tailoring the system to recognise the inflections of the typically strong Yorkshire accent. Having fine-tuned the technology, Yorkshire Electricity was ready to rollout the live solution.
"The meter reading process is now completely automated, with customers using either IVR touch-tone technology or natural language to submit ten-digit account numbers followed by the meter reading," commented Mally O' Brien, Logistics Manager at Yorkshire Electricity. "Today the Vocalis system processes upwards of 20,000 calls month, with 80% of transactions successfully completed without recourse to live agent intervention. In real terms, this results in savings of around 20,000 every month - a significant and rapid return on the initial investment."
The Vocalis voice driven solution is integrated with Yorkshire Electricity's legacy billing application, allowing submitted meter readings to be incorporated into the back end database. This in turn enables immediate updating of customer records and accounts. Customers can now rest assured that bills will be accurately based on the meter readings provided, while Yorkshire Electricity can ensure increased customer satisfaction.
"The Vocalis voice driven business solution has allowed Yorkshire Electricity to offer better customer service at a lower cost," added Mr O'Brien. "For a modern utilities company, that is absolutely crucial to continued success."
"This is a fine example of how a Vocalis voice driven solution business solution can be used to reduce expenditure while offering a higher level of functionality," remarked Minesh Patel, Technical Director, Vocalis. "As the utility sector becomes increasingly competitive, Vocalis can help companies deliver cost effective solutions to call handling challenges and deliver the best possible level of customer service."
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