When it came to customer communication, St. Cloud Utilities was dealing with a patchwork of older systems. There was no one satisfactory way to reach every affected resident when necessary.
Boil-water notices are among the most common messages St. Cloud Utilities has to send to its customers by phone or email. Sending out these messages by “reverse 911” proved to be an imperfect method. The call list didn’t perfectly match with water customers, so the department couldn’t be sure it was reaching the right people.
Advanced Utility Systems (AUS), St. Cloud’s billing solution provider, recommended a connection between the city and dataVoice International. The dataVoice interactive voice response (IVR) tool represented a new approach to communication.
Integrating the new dataVoice solutions was a 4-6 week process. To make sure the technology would connect St. Cloud Utilities with its true customer base, the city had to gather and share accurate customer data.
The IVR replaced the previous outreach method, which had been put together from disparate parts such as a Constant Contact email list and the reverse 911 calls. Now, office staff can select who to contact from
a handy map view, making sure they’re reaching the people actually affected by a boil water order or other alert.
In addition to improving the accuracy of communications, the new system gives people options about how they are contacted. Some customers are best reached by email, others by phone or text.
We do the email, text and call all using the map, so obviously it’s a lot quicker and we’re reaching a lot more people, and we’re giving them numerous avenues about how they want to be reached.
Angela Farmer, Business Administration Manager, St. Cloud Utilities
Now, when it’s time to send out a boil-water notification or other alert, a single team member can log into the system and quickly reach every customer.
With the previous patchwork system, this would not have been a simple one-person job. But now, when the employee tasked with sending notifications was taking time off, another worker was able to easily step in and send a message, working alone.
In the future, St. Cloud Utilities plans to delve deeper into Outage Management System functionality from dataVoice, but the IVR use has already had a positive impact.