Kapiti-based Electra is looking at extending the use of interactive voice response (IVR) on its PayGo metering technology for customer inquiries into account balances and obtaining a copy of a bill.
Another proposed innovation will be the ability of customers to check their meters, ring in, punch in their reading and generate a bill.
The PayGo system means customers buy their power before they use it. They can go to Electra to purchase their power or use the IVR technology, which runs in much the same way as telebanking.
Customers can set up direct debits or provide credit card details and use a PIN number when they call.
Electra finance manager John Yeoman says one reason the company was interested in PayGo is that Electra is “a pretty lean organisation staff-wise, and we’re very much driven by our performance measures such as cost per customer and operating costs.”
Yeoman says there were few problems in setting up the $50,000 system, used by about 5000 of its 35,000 customers so far.
Sanderson Computers worked with Electra to co-develop the Gentrack PayGo and IVR modules. Sanderson business development manager James Docking says several other energy companies are now looking at using the system.
Docking says that once customers become familiar with it, Electra may stop reading the meters of good customers. He says it might say, “You can go on a cheaper tariff and just send in your meter reading.”