Bihar DISCOMs Rural Revenue Franchisee (RRF) scheme 2013 involved hiring locally contracted ‘off-rolls staff’ to read electricity meters, distribute bills, and collect revenues from consumers. However, the RRF program was not been able to improve service coverage.
Subsequently, SPI initiated the “enhanced Rural Revenue Franchise Program” (e-RRF) in partnership with the DISCOMs to improve the customer service experience, serve micro-enterprises and improve the overall billing and collections.
The key focus areas included customer engagement, informing them about the benefits of grid connection, enhancing e-RRF performance by creating a performance monitoring framework using IT based interventions to eliminate human errors in billing, instituting customer indexing with DT metering to understand village’s billing efficiency, along with training and capacity building of DISCOM staff and e-RRF.
During the pilot phase of six months, a total of 16,000 connections totalling to nearly 80,000 people were covered.
SPI also developed an AI-based “Optical Character Recognition” (OCR) technology that would eliminate human errors in billing.
The performance of e-RRFs in a short period of implementation paved the path for developing customer-centric models leveraging customer satisfaction. e-RRF provided a win-win for both DISCOMs and the customers. It led to improvement in financial viability of rural customers for DISCOMs through higher revenues, on the other hand, for customers ensuring better services in rural areas.
Owing to the efforts, the number of paying customers increased from 30% to 47%, DISCOMs’ financials improved due to additional collection, and the number of customers went up with 341 Kw load added to the grid. A significant improvement in billing was also witnessed with 16% growth in the number of customers receiving timely bills.