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CRM initiative helps utility company connect with customers

Supplier: Maximizer Software
03 August, 2012

The Atlantic County Utilities Authority (ACUA) was formed in the late 1960s to develop a comprehensive approach to wastewater management.

Environmental regulations and the deregulation of the solid waste industry in the mid-90s resulted in increased competition, leading the Authority to diversify its operations and array of services, which now includes more than 45 contracts with municipalities, businesses, and private haulers to provide collection services; sales of recycled products including landscaping materials and recycled plastic lumber and furnishings; and disposal at a double lined landfill facility.

The ACUA also maintains a New Jersey State Certifi ed water and wastewater environmental testing laboratory.

Problem and challenges

The utilities industry has become increasingly competitive in recent years, with many providers offering a range of services rather than the traditional model of one supplier for each service. As the number of players in the market has grown, customer retention has become even more important to this industry.

Historically, client information wasn't shared across departments at ACUA, with only the recycling group using Maximizer Enterprise to track customer service calls.

This framework had a number of limitations. Although information was held electronically, each database was run independently of the others making it impossible for cross-departmental teams to manipulate the content to create reports showing the status of an account at any given time.

This meant that account queries were time consuming: a variety of account records had to be searched to obtain the full client picture. This problem was exaggerated by the fact that information could not be replicated to all databases simultaneously.

The outcome was that numerous views of the customer could exist and be accessed by multiple account handlers at any point in time without the information having first been synchronised.

"Our customer service was a disjointed effort that frequently resulted in lost calls or poor tracking of who called and why they called," Richard Dovey, the president of Atlantic County Utilities Authority, said.  

"Our records served primarily as an electronic card-file rather than a sophisticated client management tool."

The Maximizer Enterprise Solution

With so many records held in different departments, a single solution was needed that would migrate the existing records from their original sources to one integrated solution.

It was essential that the new tool could deliver advanced functionality to eliminate lengthy search processes and ensure efficient, instantaneous communication among office-based and remote users.

Atlantic County Utilities Authority was familiar with Maximizer Enterprise and was impressed with its ease of implementation.

Wintec Group, Inc., a Maximizer Software Certified Solution Provider, assisted with the upgrade and deployment of Maximizer Enterprise, which included remote access for ACUA's employees and Crystal Reports for more accurate reporting.

Implementation

"Having made a serious commitment to upgrade everyone to Maximizer Enterprise it was essential that Wintec understood our expectations," Dovey said.

"We needed to understand the full capabilities of the product so we could commit to a clear return on our investment. We were looking for a partner that not only understood the product but possessed the necessary skills to tailor it to our business and deliver training to our Recycling Group," said Dovey.

Wintec demonstrated skills in each of these areas and was selected on the basis of these criteria. Wintec was able to provide a CRM solution tailored to ACUA's business and support future expansions of the system. Wintec managed the development and installation of the project from start to finish.

Both parties appointed a designated Project Manager to ensure that timelines were adhered to and deadlines were met. Workshops were used to identify the needs of the system. As a result, Maximizer Enterprise was configured and customised to provide ACUA with a single customer view in any given place at a specific time.

"Thanks to our Business Partner, we've had a very smooth implementation process," Dovey said.

"We are pleased with how Maximizer Enterprise integrates with our Microsoft applications and have plans to integrate it with the Microsoft Sharepoint Portal Server."

One challenge Dovey faced was user acceptance and it was a challenge for one team to adopt a more structured case-based approach to recording customer service calls over the older, but more familiar, disjointed methods. However, Wintec worked closely with ACUA to resolve these issues and Dovey is encouraged by the initial positive comments he's received on the new business processes.

"We hope to see less ‘forgotten' calls by placing accountability on employees to provide a higher level of customer service," he said.

Once the data migration was complete, Wintec worked with the recycling group to provide training for all of the users. As a result of understanding the features and functionality of the system, ACUA is better placed to retain its competitive position in the marketplace.

"Using Maximizer Enterprise we plan to change the way we do business by improving the efficiency of workflows and customer service business processes," Dovey said.

"Given how easy it is to use, and its ability to expand throughout our organization, we fully expect Maximizer Enterprise will generate measurable increases in revenue, market share and customer satisfaction."