Dynamics CRM saves email-drowned utility

Australian Power and Gas has implemented Microsoft Dynamics CRM and other Microsoft software to handle a skyrocketing number of customer queries, but the company's CIO has said that he won't complete the ecosystem with Windows 8 tablets, as the iPad works just fine for a BYOD model.

Australian Power and Gas has implemented Microsoft Dynamics CRM and other Microsoft software to handle a skyrocketing number of customer queries, but the company's CIO has said that he won't complete the ecosystem with Windows 8 tablets, as the iPad works just fine for a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) model.

Power lines

(Power lines image by Charles Haynes, CC BY-SA 2.0)

Joseph Gullotta joined Australian Power and Gas in 2010 as the company's chief information officer. He said that at the time, the company could be likened to a start-up in terms of how it used technology.

As the company's customer base expanded, it became difficult to keep up with customers' needs by using basic email systems alone.

"We've got a number of different email screens coming from our website and other customer inquiries. [Handling] the sheer volume of that through Outlook and responding appropriately to all of them was tough; we didn't have a system for escalations in place," he said.

That was when the company decided to deploy Microsoft Dynamics CRM onsite, with staff up and running on the system within just over a month and a half.

Using Dynamics CRM, Australian Power and Gas staff members are now able to view customer-interaction data in one place, and track inquiries, cases, complaints and service escalations. Gullotta added that they are able to view the information on a single custom dashboard, and set up alerts to track and monitor the progress of different interactions.

Deploying the product has also shored up how the company handles data, he said.

"There's a lot of information in the energy industry. There's a lot of meter reading, billing information, et cetera. All of that is where we do our analysis. We look at where we're competitive and not competitive.

"Dynamics CRM centralises a lot of information on the one screen. It centralises all of our information about customers, and the data warehouse allows us to merge that info and do across-the-board analysis."

Gullotta added that the researchers also access detailed weather-forecasting information, and team it with data from the business to predict the workload wholesale electricity that traders will have to deal with.

Gullotta chose Dynamics out of a desire to stay within the Microsoft ecosystem. The company was already using Outlook and SQL Server products, and wouldn't have had to extensively train staff in the system's operation.

In terms of devices, however, Gullotta said that he's not hanging out for Windows 8-powered tablets to emerge later this year, as his fleet of door-knocking salespeople is doing just fine with the iPad platform.

"Truthfully, we're not looking at Windows 8 tablets. Within the space we're working in, a lot of us are using iPads, and we're happy with it. We can control [iPads] and we don't have any issues. It's simple and everyone knows how they work.

"We've introduced [iPads] for door knockers, and it gives customers [a] better experience. We can use them to control what [door knockers are] saying and give a ... real-time quote. That environment has really improved," he said.

The iPad is even making its way into the company's back-office environment, as the CIO shores up the company's security policies to encourage a BYOD model.

Gullotta said that he hopes Microsoft can challenge Apple for tablet supremacy soon.

"I've used the Windows environment in the past, and I'm hoping that they'll make improvements and it can challenge the iPad."

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