This may sound slightly arrogant, but I think that the GBA is rather good at providing benchmarking for its members. Mind you, I do have to admit that we designed it backwards rather than forwards, which is never good. However, we now have it right, and have produced our Top Ten Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that, we believe, truly provide a relevant and useful picture of where an organisation ‘sits’ when compared to peers and competitors.

At least we do in the telecoms industry. I am sure that about six of our Top Ten KPIs are relevant to an energy company, or a water company – how many days from billing cut-off to distribution of invoices, for example, or number of bills adjusted per thousand, or percentage of queries that relate to billing, to name just three of our ten.

The numbers differ, of course, based on numbers of customers and so on, but a telecoms company with a couple of million customers will want to get its bills out within four days, the number of bill adjustments per thousand should be less than one (0.1%) and the number of calls relating to billing is such a topic of discussion in itself – calls that mention the bill might actually about something else, etc. – that this particular KPI is an article or a seminar in itself.

Talking of which, we hosted a seminar on benchmarking a couple of months ago, and there were many excellent tips that came from it. There is not enough room here to describe them in detail, but a couple that stay in mind are – the process of benchmarking is almost as useful as the information you get out of it; and (and I like this one) if you want to streamline a process, find the laziest person to work out how to do it – they will make sure that the least effort is expended.

Perhaps the most important tip was this one: treat with care a KPI in isolation, try and get a holistic view of a process, and always try to link it to the customer experience. For instance, the lowest cost of billing does not mean the highest quality of billing, and that may be a more important objective. Another example – setting time targets of closing calls in the customer service operation may be self-defeating. If time is not taken to solve the customer’s problem, and he is dismissed without a satisfactory outcome, then that customer may well go elsewhere.

We have a wealth of information on benchmarking available to those of you who are members, and by the time I next write, I hope to have the Top Ten for Utilities confirmed.