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Frank*Energy deploys 'Betty the Robot' to streamline customer sign-ups
Tue, 12th Dec 2023

Frank*Energy, the New Zealand-based energy provider formerly known as Energy Online, has enlisted the help of Robotic Process Automation (RPA). The move is part of its endeavour to fully digitise the customer sign-up process and allow its customer care agents (CCAs) to concentrate on more strategic tasks.

Nicknamed 'Betty the Robot', the digital tool has been developed and deployed by Quanton, the expert automation practitioner and provider of digital transformation services in New Zealand. Betty's primary job is to streamline the online sign-up procedure for clients, enhancing the customer experience and removing the need for human supervision.

Betty collects customer details from a web form and subsequently transfers this information to a Gentrack billing and customer relationship management system. Alongside this standard task, the robot initiates Integrated circuit-to-packaging (ICP) checks and performs credit assessments.

Previously, manual data copying and pasting from one system to another would take human CCAs an average of eight minutes to sign up a customer. According to Chris Malcolm, Senior Product Owner at Frank*Energy, Betty has successfully halved this process time to just four minutes. "That's a massive improvement," stated Malcolm.

More significantly, Betty's automation expedited subscription approval times from up to four days to hours. "We started this project because we wanted to improve customer experience. Before Betty the robot, customers would hit the sign-up button and then wait one day, maybe even four days, before the sign-up process was complete," said Malcolm. 

"To me, that's not good enough because we want to be a modern, fully digital company where customers can interact with us intuitively through digital tools. That means the instant you hit the sign-up button you can register, see your account and start doing things," says Malcolm.

The RPA has proven instrumental in managing workload increases. In August alone, the automation capabilities of Betty meant she completed the work equivalent to 2.5 full-time employees (FTEs), allowing the company to continue processing sign-ups without hiring additional staff. This freed up existing staff to focus on valuable and more gratifying tasks.

In the endeavour to optimise sign-up quality, Malcolm highlighted that optimisation needs to precede automation. For instance, Frank*Energy adjusted its online sign-up form to ensure the accurate capture of customer information, particularly addresses, preventing incomplete sign-ups from reaching the robot.

To further hone the process and ensure consistent data quality, when the system cannot find an address, it requests the ICP number. It guides customers to find that number, improving the overall data quality fed to the robot.

According to Garry Green, Managing Director and Founder at Quanton, "Automation in isolation isn't going to deliver the desired benefits for businesses. You need to look at digitisation and optimisation as well."

Looking ahead, Malcolm envisions a fully digital, intuitive sign-up and account management system. He believes that every automated process signifies a reduction in human effort and potential new opportunities to reallocate workers into more valuable roles within the organisation.

Malcolm adds that Frank*Energy has a roadmap of other manual processes that are ideal opportunities for automation, "We will work through these in the months ahead," he said.