Better Customer Access to Information Increases Interaction & Satisfaction

March 2017

Integrated Solutions from Cogsdale Improve Customer Experience & Internal Business Processes for Public Power Utilities

The staff of Owensboro Municipal Utilities grew weary of contending with the legacy billing and customer information system. The age and inability to upgrade the software presented a variety of issues when trying to implement new technology and processes. OMU had created “workarounds” to most of these hurdles, but the process grew too cumbersome and time consuming. After investigating options for a new utility information management system, OMU selected the customer service and workforce management solutions from Cogsdale.

OMU is the largest municipal electric and water system in Kentucky with more than 26,000 electric, 24,000 water and 160 telecommunications customers. OMU went live with the Cogsdale Construction Management and Financial systems in January 2013.  The Cogsdale Customer Service systems were brought online in May 2013.

Cogsdale is a premier provider of integrated information solutions for local governments and utilities, offering the only utility-focused CIS solution built on the Microsoft platform. Focused on the public sector industry since inception in 1997, Cogsdale offers solutions for meter reading, collections, construction management, preventative maintenance, and more.

To evaluate available information systems, OMU formed a cross-functional team that included personnel from the Customer Service, Work Management, Finance and Accounting, Human Resources, Materials Management, and Information Technology departments.  “Having the right people with the right areas of expertise was critical to our selection and implementation process,” said Terry Horn, Information Technology Manager. “Our team was critical to this process. We set a goal to find a fully integrated solution so that all enterprise resource planning (ERP) modules worked together seamlessly.  After requesting bids and doing extensive evaluations, OMU selected Cogsdale as the solution that would best fit our needs.”

Since implementing Cogsdale, OMU has been able to improve or deploy a variety of new technologies to improve customers’ access to information and to improve internal business processes. “Increased customer access means increased customer satisfaction and interaction,” said Sarah McElwain, Billing Supervisor. “OMU has been able to offer our customers a greatly improved and enhanced website and mobile app, as well as provide email notification of billing. Internally we were able to create additional, timely, and useful reporting to isolate issues and track data, improve data access, and define procedures for internal users to increase accuracy as well as efficiency.”

According to McElwain, OMU has been able to partner with more vendors to integrate with the Cogsdale applications, including document imaging, mobile management of service orders, integrated voice response system, and meter reading.

Terry Horn noted, “OMU views Cogsdale as a partner. We are involved in the Cogsdale User Group and work closely with their development teams when applicable.  Cogsdale has continuously refined their development, deployment, and testing processes that provide OMU with new functionality to better serve our external and internal customers. This partnership has proved fruitful for our customers and our internal team.”

Sarah McElwain added, “Cogsdale is a progressive company that strives to improve and take advantage of industry trends which is reflected in their dedication to releasing upgrades quarterly. Furthermore, Cogsdale is very responsive to issues they receive from us, and in most cases these problems are resolved within 48 hours. Cogsdale does a great job of connecting with their users, whether at their conferences or regional user meetings, as well as through emails seeking input.”

Norwich Public Utilities Relies on Cogsdale for Integrated Info System
Norwich Public Utilities in Connecticut provides four utility services—natural gas, electricity, water, and wastewater collection—to about 20,000 customers. Back in 1999, NPU operated a billing system that was not Year 2000 compliant. Facing the Y2K deadline, the utility selected a new billing system in a hurry, without having sufficient time to conduct a thorough vetting process. To rectify the situation, NPU conducted a careful search and converted to the Cogsdale financial package in 2004 and to the Cogsdale billing system in 2005. “We find Cogsdale offers a reliable, flexible product,” said Ruth Swift, NPU Customer Service Manager. “Cogsdale understands the needs of a municipal utility system.”

Swift noted that NPU upgrades its Cogsdale software once per year, moving through a careful testing process before going live with the upgrade. “Our Cogsdale deployment is part of a fully integrated information system which includes advanced metering. Our customer service representatives are able to view detailed account information for all four of our utility services on one screen, and we bill for all utility services on one invoice.”

Swift added, “Our Cogsdale systems have worked very well for more than 12 years. When a coding issue pops up, our IT staff can usually handle it, but the Cogsdale team steps in swiftly and effectively if we need help with an adjustment.”

This year, NPU plans to enable their utility customers to view and pay their invoices online via Invoice Cloud Inc., an official partner of Cogsdale.

For More Information
Terry Horn
IT Manager
Owensboro Municipal Utilities
270-691-4106
horntw@omu.org

Sarah McElwain
Billing Supervisor
Owensboro Municipal Utilities
270-926-3200 ext 4175
mcelwainsb@omu.org

Ruth Swift
Customer Service Manager
Norwich Public Utilities
860-823-4112
ruthswift@npumail.com

 

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