The report broadly explores the customer relationship management (CRM) practices in the electricity distribution sector in Bangladesh. It identifies some of the existing challenges and how these can be improved with the use of ICTs and better service design.
In a country where less than half the population has access to electricity through 13.5 million connections to the grid, the challenge facing the sector is two-fold. First, those that are privileged to be connected to the grid, need improved services. They need to be connected 24×7, occasional outages and blackouts need to be better communicated in advance, the billing system and payment system needs to work seamlessly, and the leakage that happens through mal-governance at various levels of the system needs to be reduced. These are no small tasks. Appropriate use of ICT tools can catalyze many of the solutions to address these challenges.
Secondly, those that are not on the grid yet, require that the grid be expanded to provide them with electricity services. In the interim, however, alternative renewable energy sources may be explored. Solar energy has been playing a commanding role in this situation, covering nearly 2 million rural homes with solar home systems that support basic electricity needs of the households.
This report documents the context and current state of the sector to draw a better understanding of the key actors and their roles. Empirical data was collected with the recent developments in the sector. In line with the practice of innovation at pi Strategy Consulting, the study has incorporated ideas derived from secondary research and expert analysis in identifying potential improvement opportunities. Leading practices in other developing countries were also assessed to explore options for improvement of CRM in the sector.
A few specific recommendations are outlined in the report using short, medium and long-term leases. The recommendations range from introducing or improving call centers to provide high quality and consistent customer service, to further expanding (scale, innovations) on the currently piloted pre-paid meters, to seriously considering the deployment of a private-public31 partnership model for electricity distribution sector in Bangladesh.
However, to move from identification of challenges and potential solutions to implementation of some of the recommendations on the ground, a series of concerted efforts are required by a number of key stakeholder groups. A well thought-out process needs to be initiated to get the ball rolling. This report may be viewed as a critical first step in making the business case for that process.