The Business Messaging System

A Vehicle of Modern Communication with Customers

In an effort to improve their customer orientation, Lusaka Water Sewerage Company  pioneered the introduction of a Bulk Messaging System (BMS) using the customers mobile phones as terminal devices for any messages regarding the water service delivery.

Contact: Topsy Sikalinda | topsyfbi(at)gmail.com | Lusaka Water and Sewerage Company

Lessons Learnt

Capturing of customer data on the BMS has been a challenge because not every customer would like to fill in the forms (enter contract to receive sms), and we had to struggle with wrong or incomplete information such as an corrupted mobile numbers or wrong water account numbers.

Objectives

  • Improve communication with customers
  • Make the utility more accessible to the customers

Project Description

Technical implementation was not complicated as the utility company hired a private company to do the setting. However, customer service staff, as well as the public relations manager had to be trained on how to use it.

By simply typing "BMS" followed by the message, the system sends to 3455 recipients regardless of the mobile phone network the customers are using.

The messenger is is used to 

  • Make a bill balance inquiry
  • Register customer's complaints
  • Receive service notifications
  • Report a leakage / Pipe Burst (NRW)
  • Report Illegal connections
  • Send any type of query

Results

  • The utility company is able to reach more customers and give them information about their services and planned shut downs.
  • Customers can also send a text message to inquire about their bills or to deliver any complaint pertaining to service delivery. The number of customers that have registered for this service has been increasing progressively.
  • This mode of communication has proven to be cheaper for the utility company compared to other forms of media such as newspapers and television.

Sustainability

Other utilities have approached Lusaka water and Sewerage Company to study this system with a view of replicating it.

WAVE Impact

The idea to introduce the BMS system was consolidated after capacity interventions by the WAVEplus programme and other exposure initiatives from the utility company itself. The project was fully funded by the utility company.