As Sydney’s population continues to push outwards on the boundaries of the city, Penrith City Council has had to adopt its first customer relationship management tool to ensure it can handle the growth that will come with the construction of the new Western Sydney Airport.
Jane Howard, Penrith’s ICT operations manager, said the move to adopt a dedicated CRM actually began when the council’s 300-strong city presentation team wanted to begin using mobile devices instead of reams of paper-based work orders.
Until moving to Microsoft Dynamics Customer Service, Penrith was fielding 80,000 queries about waste disposal by phone and email, with the information being stored in records management systems that couldn’t offer a holistic view of a customer’s needs or larger trends.
That also meant a lot of paper floating around.
“How did we manage before [Dynamics]? Probably not as efficiently.”
Since renewing its waste services contract, the contractor’s systems have been integrated with the council’s new online portal.
“Since we went live in July, we registered 16,000 requests from our customers,” Howard said.
“The majority are still received by our Customer Experience team by phone, but we've undergone a recent campaign trying to channel-shift customers from the traditional ‘phone-up council’, to registering them online. This channel is now growing, since starting the campaign and is becoming very, very effective.”
“That means far fewer volumes coming into our call centre so our team can work more efficiently.”
Howard clarified that it wouldn’t lead to a reduction in headcount at council, rather, the small call centre team wouldn’t have to forward calls onto the waste contractor and could perform other tasks more closely aligned with the city’s customer-centric service strategies.
Separately, the mobile device rollout with Dynamics 365 Field Service has been put to the test by the recent wild weather that has lashed the east coast and flooding and damage in Penrith.
“We're integrating regular maintenance data from our assets system for scheduling and work order management.
“We also receive the requests coming in directly from customers, either via the portal or our
Customer Experience team.
“These requests along with the regular maintenance activities are assigned to our field crews for completion. This is all electronic and online - no more paper and when the request is from a customer they will be advised when the job is complete, even with a photo attached of the finished job.”
Even if job notifications can’t reach crews if there’s a network outage or they’re in a blackspot, the work orders are downloaded for offline use and update automatically when connectivity is restored.
Howard added that these services were selected due to their ease of use and for how they fit into the council’s software-as-a-service first model.
“We’re certainly kicking goals with SaaS and Dynamics - partly because it takes the pressure off just having to keep the lights on.”
Not having to worry about on-prem IT or records management is an important part of Penrith CIty Council’s plans to prepare for growth.
It hopes to attract up to 55,000 new jobs to the area by 2031 as the new airport opens the region up, with an estimated population rise of more than 260,000 people.