Yarra Valley Water has launched a new customer portal allowing its 750,000 customers to conduct online transactions rather than going through a call centre.
Customers will have access to 34 different functions, including reviewing and paying bills, lodging concessions, viewing outage information and requesting payment extensions.
Yarra Valley Water CIO Leigh Berrell said the utility wanted to provide customers with the facilities for self-service.
“We are committed to meeting our customers' needs and expectations, and there’s an expectation for us to enter the digital realm. Until now we haven’t been able to fulfil that for the bulk of our customers," he told iTnews.
“The majority of transactions go through our call centre, but if all a customer wants to do is change their bank account details, calling a call centre may not be the most convenient way to achieve that.
“Yarra Valley Online Water offers a new way of doing things: customers can now enrol themselves and complete 34 different transactions at any time. Of course, if customers still want to talk with one of our call centre consultants, we will stil be there to help."
Customers can also access information on their water usage compared to similar houses in the same area, as well as understand the impact of temperature and rainfall on their water use.
Yarra Valley Water designed the system and outsourced the software development to Indian systems integrator Wipro. The portal is hosted in Yarra Valley Water’s data centre.
Berrell said his IT team was already looking at new functions to add to the portal.
“There will also be a water calculator that will allow customers to enter their specific household information to make it easier to understand why their water usage goes up and down. This can help customers save money and promote sustainable water use," he said.
While the portal has been optimised for mobile, Berrell said Yarra Valley Water will take feedback from customers as to what they expect in an app for the next iteration.
“The number of customers using the portal may come down to how well we communicate its availability and how well it meets our customers' needs. We have a goal of 40 percent of all transactions done online by 2020, but I’d love to exceed that.”
Yarra Valley Water will offer the portal to other government-owned utilities in Victoria.
“One of the reasons we went down the path of developing our own portal is that we own the entire system, the source code, etc. The intention was not just to build a fantastic portal, but we want to offer it to the other Victorian water utilities.”
Yarra Valley Water provides water and sewerage facilities to over 1.8 million people in the north and east of Melbourne and 50,000 businesses.
The first iteration of Yarra Valley Online Water launched on 21 April.