A Metered Approach to Customer Service
Memphis Light, Gas and Water (MLGW) serves nearly 421,000 customers in Shelby County, Tennessee. Residents use just under 40 billion cubic feet of gas a year and nearly 15,000 kwh of electricity per capita. The utility operates 10 water-pumping stations and more than 175 wells, which it tests more than 38,000 times a year for water quality and safety.
When customers called with problems related to meters installed on their property, MLGW had no way to verify customer issues. Although the utility knew whether or not a meter was installed on a customer’s property, it didn’t know the specific location of the meter on the property or its condition. MLGW would then dispatch field crews to the property, who sometimes spent considerable time locating the meter before they could service it. And since crews had minimal information about the meters before they went on-site, they would often have to return at a later time to actually resolve the customer’s complaint.
User: Memphis Light, Gas and Water— The nation’s largest three-service municipal utility serving more than 420,000 customers
Challenge: Improve customer satisfaction and field crew efficiency related to meter installations
Solutions: ArcGIS® for Server, ArcGISSM Online, ArcGIS for iOS, SSP Nightly Batch Suite
Results: Recorded accurate information about meter installations directly in the field; resolved customer disputes and provided utility with valuable information about its assets
SSP Innovations works with utilities to implement GIS products, customize apps, and integrate systems. The Colorado-based company is also Esri’s first utility-focused ArcGISSM Online Specialty Partner. SSP has worked with MLGW since 2008, when it collaborated on the utility’s system integration, data conversion, customization, and core product implementation. When MLGW expressed interest in better capturing meter information during the planned rollout of 45,000 new meters in early 2014, SSP presented a lightweight, field collection solution that could be deployed within two weeks.
SSP designed a workflow built on Esri® technology that would allow field crews to easily capture meter information during the installation process. Using the ArcGIS for iOS app, staff members used their iPhones to record the precise GPS location of the meters, as well as the condition of the meters. Workers also took several before-and-after images of the installation to document the process. The captured information was synced with MLGW’s enterprise data on a nightly basis, where it became available to the entire utility as services through MLGW’s GIS.
“For MLGW, being able to contract SSP Innovations to implement a solution in two weeks’ time at a reasonable cost helped us tremendously. Being able to implement a total solution in two weeks was just great.” - Michael Faulk CIS and GIS Supervisor, MLGW
Armed with accurate, up-to-date information about its meters, MLGW has been able to more quickly and efficiently resolve customer issues. Customer service staff in the office can review the before-and-after photos to verify claims about damage during the installation process, such as paint on a meter or damage to a structure. Now, when field crews are dispatched, they’re equipped with detailed data about meter slots, locations, and assets before they ever reach the customer’s location. This valuable, geo-based asset data is also available to the whole division. The collected information feeds back into MLGW’s customer information system (CIS), allowing managers to track installation progress and gain better insights about its assets in the field. With SSP’s help, MLGW was able to implement the new workflow in only two weeks, giving them a powerful way of capturing data without slowing down the installation initiative. “Overall it has been a good, low-cost solution that has saved time associated with meter reading research and provided good quality controls without requiring additional resources in the field,” said MLGW customer metering and billing manager Eliza King.