United Utilities is investing £30 million on IT to improve customer service, centring its efforts around an SAP and IBM-based workforce management system intended to improve repair times.

The other systems to be improved will affect the water and electricity operator’s supply chain and customer services, and aim to create cost savings in procurement.

The “state of the art” workforce management software will link the different operational arms of United Utilities and connect to repair workers out in the field.

It will provide real time data on all repair jobs in progress, from the initial customer contact to conclusion. It also alerts the head office to any projects slipping behind schedule, and schedules future work.

The system is currently in the design stage and is expected to go live in the next six months’ time. In February, the company began rolling out real time leak reporting across its main region, the North West, following a successful trial of 35 devices.

Brian Hurd, customer services director at United Utilities, said: “It is a highly sophisticated project with a simple objective: to ensure we get the right people to the right job at the right time.

“It has been designed to speed up our response to customers’ problems, such as leaks or loss of supply,” he added.

It is the “first time” this type of project has taken place in the water industry, Hurd said, adding that “it will improve our reaction time and efficiency enormously”.

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Investment pays and continues at United Utilities