CUSTOMER INFORMATION SYSTEM
A Customer Information System (CIS) provides the utility with
access to the data necessary to manage customers (e.g. people,
addresses, locations, and services), billing (e.g. rate tables,
consumption volumes, ancillary charges, and deposits), remittance
management (e.g. financial transactions, accounts receivable and
collections) and financial reporting. CIS platforms provide customer
service representatives the data necessary to handle enquiries from customers and make any account adjustments (e.g. moving customers into new locations, managing disconnections and reconnections, adjusting fees, etc).
CIS platforms are a critical component of utility business operations. They ensure that approved rates are applied to the customer base and that the utility bills for and receives payment for all services provided. CIS platforms can also provide for on-line customer presentment of consumption and billing, and provide a conduit to the customer in the event of outages, water quality issues, drought restrictions and other important activities. In this sense, CIS can act as Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system by serving as the repository of historical information for communications and contacts with customers.
With a Customer Information System, billing and revenue management become significantly more efficient. CIS systems codify the utility practices with respect to billing and allow customer service representatives to interact with the data in a coherent fashion.
A CIS platform can provide a utility with the following benefits:
Immediately reduce costs
Instantly increase revenue
Improve customer service
No up-front capital
No incremental staff
CIS systems can be part of a large ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) program, but in most small to medium-sized utilities are stand-alone applications. Most CIS platforms require either an on-premise or cloud-based solution. In some cases, Systems Integrators (SI) perform the installation and configuration of the CIS platform. In many cases, this can involve significant effort on the utility to map and document existing processes such that they may be replicated in CIS. The utility should consider the validity of these processes, and the opportunity to streamline and update these processes prior to implementation. Some CIS providers offer standardised, or best-practice-based processes that may be more suitable for adoption to both speed the implementation process and modernise work flows.