With nearly 150,000 compressed natural gas (CNG) customers and 190,000 piped natural gas (PNG) customers, Adani Gas Limited has a wide customer base. It has already set up city gas distribution (CGD) networks in Ahmedabad and Vadodara in Gujarat, Faridabad in Haryana and Khurja in Uttar Pradesh. In addition, the development of the Allahabad and Chandigarh CGD networks has been awarded to a consortium of Adani Gas and Indian Oil Corporation. Most of the company’s consumers are domestic, with industrial and commercial users comprising less than 1 per cent of the total customer base. In all, Adani Gas serves 850 industrial consumers and 1,300 commercial consumers (all in Ahmedabad).
It has implemented a robust customer relationship management (CRM) strategy to develop, maintain and improve its customer interface. This involves technologies for organising, automating and synchronising sales, marketing, customer service and technical support. CRM relies heavily on a system that collects, manages and links customer information with the company’s database. It has three technology components: the CRM engine, front office solutions and enterprise application integration. The CRM engine is the customer data repository or data warehouse where all data is captured and stored, including names, addresses, phone numbers and birth dates. It provides a single gathering point for all individual customer information.
Now, CRM is being integrated with enterprise resource planning systems, unlike earlier when it would operate as a stand-alone system with limited data sharing capability. The integration of the two systems provides a competitive advantage by enabling the sharing and synchronisation of important information.
The key components of Adani Gas’s CRM strategy include:
Locating CNG stations and gauging PNG coverage: Consumers can locate CNG stations in a particular area in a city via this facility. They can also check the availability of a PNG network in a specific area or a city.
E-invoices: To reduce the use of paper, Adani Gas has introduced e-invoice services, as part of which bills are sent via email. Customers can either download the application or apply for this facility online.
Meter reading submissions: Adani Gas has started providing customers a facility to submit meter readings online with the aim of improving the transparency and efficiency of the billing system. Customers are required to provide their IDs and registered mobile numbers for availing of this facility.
Easy payment facilities: Adani has offered various easy payment options to its customers, such as:
- Electronic clearing service: Customers can issue instructions on their credit cards or bank accounts for clearing bills, doing away with the need to remember due dates or make cheque payments.
- Mobile payments: Customers can pay bills via mobile handsets by downloading the application of Adani’s transaction processing partner, Atom Technologies Limited, after a one-time registration process. The firm also provides an SMS facility through which information on bills, payment details and meter readings is sent to customers on their mobile phones. While the general category SMS service is available for both Adani and non-Adani customers, the SMS facility is only available for Adani customers.
- Online payments: Customers can choose a bill desk payment gateway for credit/debit cards/net banking or the Atom payment gateway for net banking.
- Drop box facility: The company has provided drop boxes at its Usmanpura, Memnagar and Maninagar offices. It also has cheque drop boxes at bank branches and ATMs (Axis Bank, HDFC Bank, Kotak Mahindra, etc). Customers can search for drop box locations on the company website.
- Cash collection centres: Customers can make payments at all IDBI Bank branches in Ahmedabad. They can also pay by cheque at these branches.
Other facilities: In addition to the above facilities, the company website provides information on the latest schedule of charges as well as the application procedure for new gas connections. Bill details are also generated on the portal.
Adani Gas’s long-term plans involve bidding for 80-100 cities. Assuming a success rate of 40 per cent, it expects to have its CGD network spread over at least 40 cities over the next 8-10 years. It is aiming to lay an additional 80-100 km of steel pipelines and 400-450 km of polyethylene pipelines as well as construct 8-10 CNG stations in each of these cities. With this widening customer base, it becomes all the more necessary to install a robust CRM system.
Adani is among the firms that have been able to effectively utilise SAP. The benefits it has accrued as a result include the provision of a single-window solution for customers, shared services for common processes like procurement and human resource management, easy transfer and reallocation of resources across the group, and reduced process durations for billing and invoicing.
Supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) is another technology solution it has adopted; its network is completely SCADA-controlled. The SCADA system is connected with the pipeline network through various components, and the pipeline network is further connected to digital/analog sensors that gather data on gas flow, temperature and pressure. These sensors are connected to remote terminal units (RTUs) or programmable logic controllers (PLCs) situated at various input locations (the pipeline, compressor station or a gas storage facility). Each PLC and RTU is operated by a supervisor who controls these units and takes corrective steps in case of any disruption in gas flow.
SCADA provides accurate and real-time information so that gas pipeline operators can perform tasks remotely. They can monitor and control product movement accurately and allow for the safe operations of a pipeline system, including pumps and compressor stations.
In addition, the company has aligned its quality management system (QMS), environment management system (EMS) and occupational health and safety management system (OHSASMS) as per standardised requirements. It has obtained certificates like ISO 9001 2008 (for QMS), ISO 14001: 2004 (for EMS), OHSAS 18001: 2007 (for OHSASMS). This has enabled Adani Gas to capture and address the requirements of customers and employees.
CGD is a customer-oriented segment and, therefore, ensuring customer satisfaction via efficient service delivery is crucial. Acknowledging this, gas utilities in India are increasingly implementing CRM systems to improve customer satisfaction and reduce the cost of servicing clients.