Hydro-Quebec, the Montreal-based public utility, has embarked on an initiative to add a more personal touch to its customer relationship management systems through a new customer billing solution.

According to Yves Legris, director of client systems information, the goal is to update the utility’s present systems – some date back 25 years – to meet rising customer expectations.

The CRM system will increase business efficiency and provide customers with more CRM via improved response times and more personalized service, while ensuring the continuity of existing information systems assets, he added.

Earlier this year IT research firm Meta Group reported that energy providers in North America typically deem work management systems to be core investments. The Stamford, Conn.-based firm’s report, Energy Utility Work Management Systems: Market Overview, found that spending on such systems currently tops US$350 million to US$450 million, rising 15 per cent to 20 per cent annually between 2003 to 2005.

Preparatory work at Hydro-Quebec has already begun; after a $300-million, four-year implementation review which ended last December, full implementation is slated for 2006.

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