Continual Improvement through Investment, Training, and Creative Ideas
A DSRSD core value is to constantly increase efficiency even as we increase or maintain the level of service we provide to customers and the community. The projects below provide recent examples of increasing efficiency through prudent capital investments, training, and creative ideas that improve work processes.
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Automation Makes Check Processing 10 Times More Efficient
Customer Services Representative Christina Casha scans a stack of checks and payment coupons from DSRSD customers. With an efficient new automated system, staff now spend 20 minutes a day processing check payments instead of four hours.
Situation: Customer services staff was spending four hours a day processing checks.
Although 60 percent of DSRSD customers pay their bills electronically, the District receives more than a thousand checks a week. The customer services staff was spending about four hours a day processing these payments. They had to compare the amount paid to amount due, upload the data to the billing database, and then take the checks to the bank. This outdated process was ripe for improvement.
Solution: With an automated system, staff now processes checks in 20 minutes a day.
In early 2016, the customer services team switched to an automated remittance system that scans, records, and deposits check payments electronically. The new process reduced processing time from four hours a day to about 20 minutes—a tenfold improvement.
Like an ATM or a mobile banking app, scanning software captures images of customer checks and creates a bank deposit file. In addition, the system scans each customer’s remittance coupon, compares the amount due to the amount paid, and generates a file to update the customer’s account. The software identifies exceptions and presents them for correction before transmitting the data.
The scanner can read a stack of checks and payment coupons in seconds. Within minutes, the bank acknowledges the deposit in the District’s account. If a check bounces due to insufficient funds, the bank returns it within one or two days instead of three to four weeks. This quick turnaround often helps customers avoid a DSRSD late payment fee.
With less handling of paper checks, customer banking data is more secure. The District has an image of every check should staff need to research an item.
The District also is saving about $200 a month in bank fees. When the bank started charging for every paper transaction, Customer Services Supervisor Vicki Goldman decided to invest in the $7,000 electronic remittance processing system several months ahead of schedule. Although increased staff productivity generates the biggest return, simply avoiding the extra bank fees will recoup the cost of the system in less than three years.
“By continually increasing our efficiency, our customer services team serves an ever increasing number of customers each year without increasing the number of staff,” Goldman says.