The EKZ (Elektrizitätswerke des Kantons Zürich) used to send close to two million bills a year, the majority of which were paper bills. This was an expensive, environmentally unfriendly and inefficient way of sending bills. It is now being gradually replaced by electronic billing.
The EKZ (Elektrizitätswerke des Kantons Zürich) supplies around 10% of Switzerland's electricity needs. This makes it one of the country's largest electricity companies. The company has been committed to sustainability and renewable energies for some years now. The EKZ's far-reaching commitment is topped off with grants and discounts to promote the use of environmentally friendly technologies and renewable energies.
As one of Switzerland's largest energy suppliers, the EKZ's clear commitment to environmentally-friendly energy is not limited to the services it offers to customers. Internally, too, the company is constantly looking for ways to optimise the way it uses resources. When the EKZ came to scrutinise its bill dispatch processes, it was observed that almost two million bills were sent every year, the majority of which were printed paper bills. Equally important, however, is that EKZ's customers have the option of choosing how they wish to receive their electricity bill. In this way, electronic billing also meets the needs of environmentally conscious customers, while at the same time optimises the complex bill dispatch process. The implementation of the e-billing solution from Swisscom will significantly reduce the number of bills sent by post in the next few years. This in turn means a reduction in the costs associated with printing, paper and postage etc. of over 70%, resulting in six-figure annual savings without a reduction in quality. And because all downstream processes and checks associated with bill dispatching are now highly automated, the increased level of automation has brought about significant additional efficiency gains.
The EKZ converts the electronic bills into PDF files and forwards them to the Marketplace Conextrade run by Swisscom where they are digitally signed. Conextrade then dispatches the signed bills and supplies them to the EKZ for archiving. The e-mail itself is signed and dispatched to the relevant corporate and residential customers. This signature allows the recipient of the bill to easily check whether the e-mail is really from the sender or whether it just appears to be. The signed e-mail also proves that its content has not been changed during delivery. It is easy to verify the authenticity of e-mails which also avoids them being mistakenly identified as spam.
The bill dispatch process at EKZ now requires less paper. Needless to say, billing is now also much faster than it used to be. This results in three major benefits for the EKZ: billing is paperless, which is more environmentally friendly, archiving is done simply and electronically and despite the increased speed, reliable delivery of invoices is still guaranteed as before. Thanks to well-engineered, state-ofthe-art technologies, the environmentally- conscious energy provider is now able to take a further step towards conserving resources internally and in turn do its bit for the environment. "We couldn't have implemented the process change we were aiming for without the experts from Swisscom. They thought of everything and provided professional support from the planning stage right through to implementation," says Michael Jastrob.