Npower's SAP billing fiasco still making a dent on profits

Update: Npower billing system “disaster” reponsible for £99m operating losses

Continued billing issues and customer complaints following a botched SAP migration saw npower earnings drop 60 percent during the first half of this year.

Paul Massara, npower's CEO stated: “The main part of our drop in profits has been due to the continued impact of the systems issues that hit our domestic business last year. The challenges that we have faced were tougher than we expected but we know what the problems are and are taking the right steps to fix them.

"Already this year, we’ve made real improvements for our customers, halving  the number of complaints we receive, meaning complaints are at their lowest level since 2011.

He added: "We also continue to find new and innovative ways to engage our customers in their energy use. Our new app has been well very received by customers, ranked number one out of the six large energy companies on the Apple App Store.”

Problems have persisted for almost four years since migrating from legacy systems to SAP. Npower said it hoped to fix its customer billing systems by July last year.

The promise came after the energy company earned the title of most complained about energy firm last year after its botched billing system implementation, which it began four years ago.

Disruption to customer-facing systems surfaced following a migration from legacy in-house systems onto a SAP platform, orchestrated by IBM in 2011. Many of npower’s 5.4 million customers began to experience billing delays, cancelled direct debits and some customer’s accounts were never set up, and problems were still occurring three years after the migration.

A npower spokesperson said: “We have been working really hard to resolve the issues we have seen with the system so have used specialist teams to work solely on this project. We've made significant progress as the majority of issues have now been fixed and the remainder will be sorted within the next couple of months.”

Npower has been the subject of a high level of customer complaints recorded by the Citizen’s Advice Bureau - 306 complaints for every 100,000 npower customers in 2013, reaching a peak in December - more than a year after problems surfaced.

Citizens Advice chief executive Gillian Guy has asked npower to offer affected customers compensation, and told customers to chase the energy firm for payments.

In December, npower was forced to bring in service provider partners to help resolve the disruption to customer-facing systems.

It is not the first time the energy supplier has warranted bad press. In 2011 npower was accused of breaching the Communications Act 2003 over dropped calls to customers, which were made repeatedly due to a glitch in call centre telephone systems.

Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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