Automated Meter Reads with Amazon Connect

The Challenge

So Energy were formed in 2015 and have grown at a rapid rate since then, backed by award-winning customer service. Due to the changing prices and tariff deadlines in the energy market they found that lots of customers would submit their meter reads on the same day as the price cap announcement. This placed an additional burden on their customer service team and they sought a solution that would alleviate this burden and improve their overall service offering to end customers.

So Energy approached Alscient to design and build a meter read solution on top of their telephony platform Amazon Connect.

The requirement to Alscient consisted of the following:

  • To seamlessly introduce the solution into their existing call flows.
  • To pass the caller through Identity and Validation (ID&V) to successfully authenticate and grant access.
  • To provide a Lex bot to assist with call routing.
  • To submit meter reads for gas and electricity and validate that the submission was within tolerance for the fuel type.
  • To route the call to an agent if out of tolerance.
  • To provide an operational dashboard which gave an overview of calls made/received and the performance of the backend services

The Solution

We addressed these requirements in a phased approach. We initially captured the full set of requirements for the solution and provided a high-level design which described how the solution would work. Following approval of the design, the solution was built in a development environment.

The solution made use of Amazon Connect with DTMF input being received to capture authentication and meter read details. A Lex bot was used to assist with call routing. S3 was used to store the call recordings and Polly was used to provide text-to-speech prompts within the call flow. Additionally, Lambda’s were used within the call flows to call exposed web services to authenticate the customer and to accept meter read requests. A CloudWatch dashboard was also created along with a series of alarms to provide operational alerting capabilities. Key authentication details for the web services were also maintained in Secrets Manager.

Following completion of build the solution was system tested and then migrated across to the UAT environment where So Energy performed their own testing of the solution. After completion of UAT the solution was then put live.

The Result

The solution has been live since April 2023 and allows customers to submit their meter reads without any assistance from a customer service agent. The solution has led to a reduction in calls at peak intervals and has improved the overall service offering provided to end customers. The automated IVR service (based on DTMF prompts and Lambda callouts) is well liked by end customers allowing them to self-serve at a time that is convenient to them.

"Alscient mobilised a team quickly to respond to our need to ensure our customers had the right channels available at the right time for a smooth customer experience. This meant that our customers no longer needed to sit in queues to submit their readings to an agent and they could self-serve 24/7. This service has gone down really well with our customers and we look forward to working with Alscient on other innovations in the future."

Daniela Mattingly, Product Manager

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