This article was first published in the Winter 2014 issue of OnWindows
With a history spanning 175 years, Australia Gas and Light (AGL) has cemented itself as one of Australia’s most successful energy providers. Not only does it sell and market natural gas, electricity and energy related products and services to more than 3.8 million residential and small business customers, but it’s also the largest privately owned operator and developer of renewable generation assets.
But staying ahead in today’s operating environment is no easy feat; deregulation in the energy sector in 2001 paved the way for a number of new energy utilities to enter the market and AGL found itself trading in a more dynamic and competitive marketplace. While this new climate meant that customer churn was at an all-time high, it also presented opportunities unprecedented in the industry. In a highly competitive market, AGL knew that it needed to compete on more than just price. Therefore, to ensure it retained its leading position, AGL sought to differentiate itself from competitors to reduce customer turnover and to implement new strategies to retain their already strong customer base.
In order to achieve this, AGL turned to Avanade and Accenture to help it to provide more engaging services to customers through the creation of a data-rich, personalised, online customer experience. It was also important to provide tools to make easily available the data captured by smart meters to enable customers to make informed decisions about their energy usage.
The project involved a number of solutions. The first was to build a common platform that could meet both internal and customer-facing needs. This involved consolidating 50 independently managed business websites into one consolidated platform. Avanade helped identify the functions and the requirements for each site to ensure all needs would be met. The solution also included using Microsft Azure cloud technology to run the Sitecore-based solution, again to maximise AGL’s existing investment in Microsoft technologies. Cloud technology facilitates efficiencies and scalability, ensuring the stability of the platform supporting high activity at peak times. Existing self-service technology was migrated to the Sitecore in Azure platform, so customers can easily pay their bills, view their account activity or plan for a house move.
The new solution has meant significant gains for AGL. The new platform offers customers personalised usage reports and 24-month energy management plans, enabling them to choose how to manage their energy consumption. As a result of these new features, home page visitors are 47% more likely to go directly to AGL’s energy plans page to consider AGL as their energy provider.
With their site optimised for mobile, AGL is seeing a 29% increase in mobile conversions with an increase in mobile visitors overall. The new ‘pay your bill’ quick link is the site’s second most used link, suggesting customers value the opportunity to easily pay their bill online. The site is more accessible overall, loading up to 40% more quickly, supporting a smooth user experience plus effective search engine optimisation.
By delivering personalised, actionable energy information to its customers, AGL has boosted customer engagement, retaining existing customers and attracting new ones. Mobile access has opened new doors to on-the-go, busy customers who value the chance to connect via their smartphones.
By developing an integrated platform with strong design and scalable cloud technology, the new AGL website is nimble and responsive, and can quickly accommodate changing requirements and market demands. In a crowded, competitive energy market, Avanade and Accenture have helped AGL differentiate itself via a real-time, on-the-go ability to deliver meaningful data and help customers choose wisely, when and how they use energy.
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