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At a time when utilities companies are under pressure to enhance customer experience, achieve financial sustainability, and ensure regulatory compliance, modern Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) emerges as a strategic lever for transformation.
Understanding modern BPO: Delivering tangible business outcomes

Modern BPO goes beyond traditional outsourcing models by leveraging advanced technologies, domain expertise, and innovative practices to drive business value. It involves the strategic partnership between a utility company and a BPO provider to manage non-core functions such as customer service, billing, and IT services. The goal is to deliver tangible business outcomes, including:

  • Cost reduction: By outsourcing non-core functions, utilities can reduce operational costs and redirect resources to strategic initiatives.
  • Enhanced efficiency: Streamlined processes and the use of automation can significantly improve operational efficiency.
  • Improved customer experience: Modern BPO providers offer sophisticated customer service solutions that enhance customer satisfaction and loyalty.
  • Scalability and flexibility: Utilities can quickly scale operations up or down based on demand, ensuring agility in response to market changes.
Targeting high-impact areas in utilities

Utilities companies have several high-impact areas where modern BPO can drive significant improvements:

  • Customer service: Enhancing customer interactions through multi-channel support, self-service portals, and personalised communication.
  • Billing and payments: Streamlining billing processes, reducing errors, and improving collection efficiency.
  • Field services: Optimising workforce management, scheduling, and dispatch to enhance field operations.
  • IT services: Managing IT infrastructure, cybersecurity, and data analytics to support business functions and innovation.
Best practices: Streamlining operations for efficiency

Leading utilities companies are adopting best practices to streamline operations and boost efficiency. Examples include:

  • Automation of routine tasks: Utilising robotic process automation (RPA) to handle repetitive tasks such as meter reading, billing, and customer inquiries, freeing up human resources for more complex activities.
  • Data-driven decision making: Implementing advanced analytics to gain insights into customer behaviour, energy consumption patterns, and operational performance.
  • Integrated service models: Creating integrated service delivery models that align front-office and back-office operations to ensure seamless customer experiences.
Customer experience vs. cost optimisation: Finding the balance

A common concern is whether enhancing customer experience comes at the expense of cost optimisation. The key lies in finding the right balance. With the right BPO partner, utilities can achieve both objectives by:

  • Leveraging technology: Utilising AI and machine learning to offer personalised services without increasing costs.
  • Efficient resource allocation: Prioritising high-impact areas for customer engagement while automating low-value tasks.
  • Continuous improvement: Adopting a continuous improvement mindset to refine processes and enhance both customer satisfaction and cost efficiency.
The role of gen AI and automation in modern BPO

Emerging technologies such as generative AI (gen AI) and automation are revolutionising BPO services. These technologies enable utilities to:

  • Enhance predictive maintenance: Predict and address equipment failures before they occur, reducing downtime and maintenance costs.
  • Personalise customer interactions: Use AI to offer tailored recommendations and proactive support, enhancing customer loyalty.
  • Optimise workforce management: Automate scheduling and dispatch to ensure the right resources are available at the right time.
Quick wins for operational excellence

Utilities can achieve quick wins for operational excellence by focusing on key areas such as:

  • Regulatory compliance: Implementing automated compliance checks to ensure adherence to regulations and reduce the risk of penalties.
  • Distribution planning: Using data analytics to optimise distribution networks and reduce energy losses.
  • Fault detection: Leveraging IoT and AI to detect and address faults in real-time, minimising service disruptions.
Opportunities during uncertainty and change

In times of uncertainty and change, modern BPO provides utilities with opportunities to:

  • Maintain continuity: Ensure business continuity through scalable and flexible BPO solutions.
  • Adapt quickly: Respond to regulatory changes and market dynamics with agility.
  • Focus on core competencies: Allow internal teams to concentrate on strategic initiatives while the BPO provider manages routine operations.

Learn more: Modern operations for the intuitive enterprise (cognizant.com)


Shaun Collings

Business Director, Digital Business Operations UK & Europe, Cognizant

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