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The Cincinnati Water Works (CWW) serves approximately 1 million customers. Its b

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The Cincinnati Water Works (CWW) serves approximately 1 million customers. Its billing system allows customer service representatives (CSRs) to retrieve information from customer accounts quickly using almost any piece of data such as customer name, address, phone number, social security number, and so on. Besides a customer’s account history, the system contains everything that was said in a call, including documentation of past problems and their resolution. An integrated voice response system provides automated phone support for bill paying and account balances, tells customers of the approximate wait time to speak to a CSR, and allows the customers to leave a message for a CSR to return a call. An information board in the department shows the number of customers waiting, the average length of time waiting, and the number of CSRs that are busy and doing post-call work. A pop-up screen provides CSRs with customer data before the phone rings so that he or she will have the customer’s information before they even say hello. Work orders are taken by CSRs, such as a broken water main or leaking meter, are routed automatically to a field service supervisor for immediate attention.
This system is also used internally to allocate maintenance workers when a problem arises at a pumping station or treatment facility. A geographic information system is used for mapping the locations of water mains and fire hydrants and provides field service employees, meter readers, and contractors with exact information to accomplish their work. Handheld meter readers are used to locate meters and download data into computers. Touchpad devices provide exterior connections to inside meters, eliminating the necessity to enter a house or building. CWW has also installed automated meter readers and radiofrequency devices that simply require a company van to drive by the building to automatically obtain readings.
Discuss how technology has affected the processes of CWW. What specific types of improvements (quality, cycle time, etc.) were these applications designed to address and why? Can you think of similar uses of these technologies in other service applications?

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