Gulp! Irish Water outsources contact centres to Capita for up to €27m over 7 years

The most valuable commodity on the planet? Yep, outsourcing

Irish Water has placed the “transformation” and management of its customer contact centres in the hands of everyone’s favourite outsourcing badass, Capita.…

Irish Water has placed the “transformation” and management of its customer contact centres in the hands of everyone’s favourite outsourcing badass, Capita.

The London Stock Exchange-listed business told the City today that it has bagged a five-year contract valued at €10m, though if the Irish utility provider decides to extend the agreement by two more years, the payment rises another €17m over years six and seven.

As part of the commercial embrace, Capita will roll out “new software and digital capabilities” to overhaul customer management support services for Irish Water’s 1.6 million household and 172,000 biz customers [PDF].

The “digital expertise” Capita brings to the table will include “data and analytics capabilities” that will be employed to seek out “improved customer and service insight.” The theory being that customer problems will be flushed out more quickly, and more efficiency will be brought to service delivery, including payment collections.

Capita has a track record in collecting fees – just ask the vulnerable people it was targeting for BBC licence fee payment back in 2017, when it dangled bonuses of up to £15,000 a year to its enforcement officers that were tasked with snaring 28 fee avoiders each week.

Aimie Chapple, exec officer for Capita’s Customer Management division, talked up Capita’s record of deploying “highly efficient, technology enabled customers services” while simultaneously “providing greater value for money.”

Cynics always claim outsourcing is done to cut costs, and history is littered with examples of customer services going awry when delivered by a third party.

A hopeful Yvonne Harris, head of customer operations at Irish Water, said she expects the financially baked “partnership” to lead to better outcomes “through enhanced digital offerings and other best-in-class technologies.”

Capita already works with utility companies and in 2018 extended a long-running agreement with Southern Water for five years, worth £30m. The fresh contract covered front operation services in addition to back-office functions that included billing processes, correspondence handling and print and mail. Analytics and automation were features of the deal.

This latest agreement with Irish Water couldn’t have landed at a better time for Capita, what with the most recent run of falling revenues and profits proving elusive.

Irish Water customers might note that their date with destiny starts on 25 January 2021. ®

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