By Ken Tarus, PhD
One of the goals Kenya Power has set to achieve in the medium term is excellent service delivery to our customers.
Globally, customers are progressively becoming aware of changing technologies hence demand for better services. Kenya is not different as the local electricity sector has undergone tremendous evolution like other parts of the world.
It is obvious that any company keen on remaining a market leader ought to invest heavily in customer service by adopting user-friendly systems that ride on the latest technology to enhance efficiency.
In this regard, Kenya Power has taken deliberate steps to deploy current technology to ensure that our customers enjoy quality electricity supply.
For the last 20 years, Kenya Power has relied on the Integrated Customer Service (ICS) system. Whereas the system has served the company well over the years, modern development has brought to the fore the limitations.
With the rapid growth in our customer base, standing at over 6 million to-date, the need for a more robust, user friendly and customer facing system cannot be overemphasized.
In the last 5 years, the company has undertaken heavy capital investment in its distribution network and infrastructural projects, spending over Kshs.120 billion in construction of new substations, refurbishment of the existing distributional network and enhancing new connectivity. This has seen an overall improvement on the quality of power supply.
To ensure the benefits of this hardware development are maximized, the company has also invested in its software upgrade. The new Integrated Customer Management System (InCMS) provides a new platform for enhanced service delivery to our esteemed customers.
The system once fully deployed will allow our customers to receive real time feedback on all interaction with Kenya Power. For instance, today when customers pay their bill, it takes time for that to be reflected. The new system allows for immediate payment status feedback which ever channel of payment our customers uses. This guarantees assurance that your payment has been received.
Contrary to ICS, the InCMS eases the process of bill payments by providing multiple channels such as banks, debit and credit cards as well as mobile money agents. Customers using any of the payment channels will have their accounts updated on real-time basis.
The new InCMS has a more advanced customer service system that provides a self-service menu to customers, enabling them to be self-reliant. Given that it is web based and with a mobile application module, this will allow our customers to personally read their post-paid meters, query their bills, buy electricity tokens, among many others. This is expected to be launched in the second phase of the roll out plan.
In addition, the new customer management system will allow customers to apply for new electricity connection and track their applications. Customers can also use the system to amend the contract name in case of changes in ownership of property.
It also allows customers to raise issues with the company, access important information such as planned shutdowns for maintenance works and check authenticity of staff, hence boosting security for our customers as it will deter impersonation.
Being a web-based system, InCMS is integrated with Google Maps. Using coordinates in Kenya Power’s Geographic Information System (GIS), meter readers, revenue collectors, inspection staff and other fild staff will be able to identify meter location on site thus reduce the turnaround time for attending to customers in case of outages, reconnection and other activities. The new system reduces the time lag between raising a work order and resolving a customer issue which previously took an average of two days.
InCMS incorporates the International Billing On Site (IBOS) system that is used by utility companies in developed nations to fasten the payment process. This system will allow meter readers to key in meter readings on site and send feedback to the office for generation of bills. This benefit is expected to reduce the billing cycle by almost 50 per cent and deal with the challenge of bill estimation.
To ensure a flawless rollout, the company undertook a pilot study in Roysambu area of Nairobi in May this year, targeting 214,294 customers out of which 86 per cent were prepaid customers and the rest postpaid. The company has built on the lessons that emerged from the pilot exercise to seal all loopholes and ensure a seamless rollout of the system.
Under the first phase, customers in Nairobi, Kajiado, Machakos and Makueni counties, were migrated to the InCMS. The system will be rolled-out in other parts of the country by the end of this year.
Ken Tarus, PhD is the Managing Director & CEO of Kenya Power.