Improving customer service: From idea to app in six weeks through the Cloud

Western Power wanted to better inform their customers concerning upcoming maintenance and upgrade work as well as provide better information about storms and other unplanned outage situations. imageWhile Western Power does not generate or retail electricity, they build, maintain and operate the electricity network in the south west corner of Western Australia covering 255,000 square kilometers.

As Gino Giudice, Head of Customer Service at Western Power says: “Rather than our customers having to contact us, we wanted to take a more proactive approach and have the information readily available at their fingertips.” He goes on to say: “A number of our planned outages end up cancelled due to operational requirements, so around 6,000 customers per month are affected by the changes in schedule without warning.”  

With this business pain point in hand, the Western Power ICT team worked with Microsoft partner Ignia to create a prototype app to present to internal stakeholders and showcase its potential.

What makes thiimages story so interesting is that the Western Power team had to deliver a prototype app quickly and knew that the traditional waterfall software development approach which could take up to a year was unacceptable as the business wanted a solution much faster and their external customers needed a solution now.

Leigh Sprlyan, Chief Information Officer at Western Power says: “We wanted to deliver the project in a different way and decided to try our hand at being disruptive and the Western Power App was chosen as the ‘guinea pig’ for this approach. We wanted to test whether Agile (Ignia’s methodology for agile software development) would work in our environment and add any efficiencies. So this app was essentially a two-fold project; a proof of concept to determine how we can best approach tactical projects as wellimage as delivering value to our customers.”

Western Power also knew they did not want to host this solution and turned the Microsoft cloud environment, Azure, for its highly scalable and ready to use services along with its ability to quickly scale up to service high volumes of customers at once which is a perfect fit for an outage information and notification application.

The result was that the Western Power and Ignia team were able to deliver a working prototype in six weeks and the mobile application is simplifying the customer experience and alleviating the pressure on Western Power’s customer service team during planned and unplanned outages. There’s a lot more to the story and we suggest you take a look at the video case study here and the written case study here.

You can hear many more stories like this by joining us for Reimagining the Utility enterprise in a connected world at Hanover Messe, April 13th – April 17th, #HMI15. May the Cloud be with You! – Jon C. Arnold