Realizing swb24.de: Online electricity and gas from swb AG
Extending the existing customer self-service feature on its website, swb is now offering swb24, an online electricity and gas tariff. By reducing standard administration costs swb24 is a competitively priced offer as swb’s entrance into the online utility market. Thus, it is a strategic response to a variety of similar products like “E-wie-einfach” and eprimo.
Our task: To develop a regional energy company’s online business
Rising energy prices and the public’s growing acceptance of doing business online have prompted energy providers to extend their product range to include online electricity offerings. Providers keen to serve their customers reliably through an online “branch” need to resolve a number of issues simultaneously:
- Strategic issues:
Market reach of the offering, required process adjustments (e.g. change of supplier), business case
- Product design:
Online pricing, e.g. based on expected administrative cost benefits (e.g. internet-oriented approach)
- Online self-service infrastructure
as a prerequisite to realize the savings in administration (see mgm reference on customer self-service)
- Consideration of current legal requirements
(e.g. process identity in accordance with BNA) also in online sales
- End-to-end process integration
with a “low touch” approach to minimize manual intervention by the service team
- Change management:
tailoring and fine tuning of the online offering.
At swb, the joint team of utilities experts of mgm technology partners and logica managed services (formerly nordIT) could extend the customer self-service, CRM and billing solutions to fulfill the online business requirements.
“Apart from the functional requirements our processes need to meet, we primarily had to guarantee a high online service quality for swb24.de,” explains Jens Riddel, e-business manager at swb AG. “This continues to be an iterative process, even after going live. Ongoing monitoring of our platform allows us to quickly recognize changes in user behavior and is a guideline to optimizing the usability of the platform.”
Online system development: End-to-end automation and system integration
Implementing an online business system calls for technical integration with different core utilities systems in order to reproduce the business processes with as much automation as possible. Automation is what determines whether the service team has to post-process certain cases manually (such as customers switching to swb24) or how far this can be avoided with measures like plausibility checks:
- Online sales and CRM, e.g. incorporation in outbound campaigns like newsletters, transfer of contract data from the online portal
- Online sales and customer self-service, e.g. activating a new customer account after a contract has been taken out
- Online sales and billing, e.g. online margin checks, detecting meter-reading requests
- Online sales and DMS, e.g. displaying all correspondence from the archive
User acceptance thanks to high online service quality
“People’s acceptance of doing business online is growing rapidly at the moment. The success of online business is enhanced if portals are easy to use and the security of personal data is guaranteed,” explains Jürgen Maier, project manager at mgm.
What makes swb24.de so ergonomic is the ease with which customers can navigate through the processes; help functions and form-filling guides that work in all browsers help people to enter the correct data, too.
The portal’s security is guaranteed by (server-side) ssl encryption, encrypted password storage and enhanced measures to secure data alterations by authenticated users. Read more on the subject of certification at: http://www.datenschutz-cert.de/.
swb24.de and the online customer self-service feature give swb AG a modern infrastructure. The use of modern technologies (such as AJAX, Java, Web 2.0) makes the system extremely user friendly and enables strategic decisions to be implemented in the market at short notice.
In operation and during the refinement of the system, swb’s marketing team is in a position to realistically plan new ideas and concepts for the online business and to implement them at short notice, sometimes within hours.
* This reference has been officially confirmed by swb.