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The Challenge

The telephone billing system for the Kauai market was out of date and the software vendor was no longer supporting the application. In addition, this market was not at parity with the rest of the cellular company. "It's a testament to their perseverance that this group operated as long as it did with the current system," notes Michael Coghlan, Catwalk managing partner, "There was tremendous opportunity for productivity gains by upgrading their system." For instance:

  • the general ledger system was still manually fed
  • bills were manually stuffed and mailed
  • data had to be individually entered in up to 6 different systems

The team faced some additional challenges that were unique to this market and differed from the company's standard practices. All needed to be addressed in the system upgrade:

  • due to the time difference, the standard peak/off-peak hours for Kauai differs from the company's other markets;
  • the voicemail platform was different;
  • Kauai allowed it's customers to make installment payments for equipment purchases;
  • Kauai allowed customers to reserve a phone number for a period of 12 months in advance of activating service.
  • in needing to meet the needs of numerous vacation homeowners in Kauai, this market allowed customers the option to temporarily disconnect service and reserve their number for up to 12 months for a charge of $15/month. During the disconnect time, customers could still choose to receive voicemail and make installment payments on equipment;
  • Kauai allowed islanders to make inter-island calls throughout Hawaii under a special package price;
  • additional minutes could only be purchased in blocks of 100 or 1,000;
  • for short-term travelers, Kauai offered a cellular telephone rental program.

 

Catwalk Action

The team worked with the client to identify their goals and desired results. In doing so they:

  • inspected the current system and completed a gap analysis;
  • laid out the project scope including schedule, budget and necessary resources;
  • led a cross functional team to adopt the parent company's cellular billing service
    system, which offered Kauai:
    --a cost effective solution that allowed the Kauai market to mirror its mainland counterparts in financial reporting style and in simplified data transfer between headquarters and Kauai;
    --on-line billing system interface;
    --real-time service provision interface;
    --adaptability to its local market, allowing Kauai to still operate as a standalone market with unique needs.

 

Outcome
The account and financial conversion to the standard system was completed successfully. The conversion was delivered on time and under budget with minimal customer impact. By upgrading the system, the client was able to simplify the process of getting usage information from the phone switching station to the billing system via an internet connection.

"An added benefit," adds Michael "was the fact that the customer service representatives could now focus on serving their customers instead of stuffing bill envelopes. The productivity gains were almost instantaneous."

 
Final Thoughts
"The 9 hour time difference between Kauai and the mainland posed some real challenges in terms of communicating among team members," laughs Michael. "We couldn't have traditional conference calls because someone would have to take the call in the middle of the night! It forced us to be creative as to how all the parties were going to stay up to speed and get answers back in a timely way."