With the expanding customer base, city gas distribution (CGD) companies are increasingly focusing on providing quality services to their customers. Consumers, on the other hand, are becoming active and making informed decisions. Therefore, many utilities are taking measures to improve their user interface by increasing their reach and digitalising their customer operations.
Two major CGD utilities in India, Indraprastha Gas Limited (IGL) and Adani Gas Limited, are working on similar lines. They have launched a number of value-added services to improve customer satisfaction and convenience. These include online bill generation and payment services, the provision of online application for new connections, online grievance redressal mechanisms, 24×7 toll free helpline numbers, web portals, customer-friendly mobile applications and smart cards for cashless payment. These services help CGD utilities cater to the expanding customer base, study the customer consumption pattern and address complaints in a timely manner.
Customers first for IGL
IGL’s CGD network is spread across Delhi and the adjoining cities of Ghaziabad, Noida and Greater Noida. In 2017, it won licences to lay the CGD network in parts of Gurugram and Karnal in Haryana and has already started supplying natural gas in Rewari. With its expanding customer base, IGL is making efforts to upgrade its service quality by leveraging information technology in all its customer operations. A number of manual customer processes have been digitalised. These include bill payment, application for a new connection and complaint registration.
To improve the customer interface and provide a two-way communication channel, IGL has launched a mobile application called IGL Connect. The application can be downloaded both from Android and iOS based phones. It offers several features for both piped natural gas (PNG) and compressed natural gas (CNG) users. For instance, it enables the customers to access their accounts anytime, anywhere. Another key feature is the online bill payment facility for PNG customers. Customers can also view their billing and payment history. In case of any discrepancies, the application provides the option of lodging complaints with an additional provision of viewing the complaint status. Consumers can also give feedback, update their mobile numbers and submit their meter readings.
IGL has also developed an interactive web portal, which offers several user-friendly features to both PNG and CNG users. For PNG users, it provides the option of paying bills online through its “INSTAPAYMENT” feature without creating an account. The user only needs to fill in the business partner number to make payments. It also has a customer login tab through which PNG users can log in using their username and password. Through this account, users can view their bill payments history and pay their current due amount. It also has the facility of filing complaints in case of any issues with the connection. The complaint status can be monitored and feedback can be given. Besides, the online portal allows PNG customers to apply for new connections and upload their documents for the same online, thus eliminating the need for personally visiting the branch office.
For CNG customers, the online portal provides information about nearby CNG stations along with digital maps. It also provides a list of all the hydro testing centres, and existing prices of CNG and PNG in a particular region. The consumers can also make an estimate about their bill amount using the CNG calculator.
Smart Card programme
IGL has also launched a new Smart Card programme for retail, fleet and cluster customers. Customers can use these prepaid smart cards to make cashless payments at CNG outlets. Any information regarding the card balance can be accessed online and cards can be recharged through net banking. Customers can also register their name, email address and mobile number to get access to live dashboards, reports and transactions. All the transactions can be monitored anytime through the management information system. Further, to ensure the security of transactions, a PIN-based security process is employed with a separate pin for each card as well as a control pin for all the transactions. In case of any queries, there is a 24×7 helpdesk for both fleet and retail customers.
24*7 customer care
IGL has launched a round-the-clock customer care helpline to address customer complaints and issues. This toll free number instantly connects the user to one of the IGL’s customer relationship management (CRM) executive. They can inform the customer care executive about any construction or modification happening in a civil structure near a PNG installation that could affect the gas pipeline. There is another emergency helpline to inform IGL staff about any third-party digging around the gas pipelines without any prior permission.
Key initiatives taken by Adani Gas
Similar to IGL, Adani Gas has introduced several value-added services for its customers. These include a mobile application, an online portal and emergency helpline numbers.
AGL mobile application
AGL has launched a mobile application called Adani Gas for improved customer engagement. The application can be downloaded on an Android-based phone through the Google Play store. This application provides a hassle-free experience to customers as it provides direct access to its features along with an emergency call number on its landing page. Users can either login into their account to perform an activity or can view the demo of the application prior to its usage.
The key features of the application include:
- Instant payment though a quick bill pay option. This allows consumers to pay their bill after entering a valid customer identification number.
- Users can view the billing history of their last five bills and payments. It also provides the option of downloading the bill copy and account statement for future reference.
- Another unique feature is that the application analyses bills on a yearly basis.
- Customers can raise service requests and track the status of the request on a real-time basis.
- For consumers seeking a new PNG connection, requests can be made for different types of connections based on the usage (domestic, commercial and industrial).
- The application also provides information such as a list of PNG stations and their location. This can be accessed through the “Locate Us” option. Based on selection options (Type/City), users can further filter data. The locations can be viewed with the help of digital maps. Data can also be filtered category-wise for domestic, commercial and industrial consumers.
- Users can also submit their meter readings in a particular time interval, which eliminates the need for manual readings by AGL staff.
- In case of any grievance, customers can register their complaints. The app will generate a complaint number, which can be used for checking the status of the complaint.
- The application also has a call us feature, which directly connects to the customer care executive in case of any emergency or query.
- If a user has two or more accounts, these can be linked or delinked with the primary account.
Customer care number
Adani Gas has also launched a toll-free helpline number to register and address complaints of customers with no internet access. Customers can reach out to a customer care executive in case of any issues related to their gas connections. Another helpline number has been launched for new connections. These numbers provide a one-stop solution to all customer queries, thus improving the user interface.
The various CRM initiatives being implemented by the CGD companies have helped in improving the quality of services provided to customers. At the same time, these initiatives aid utilities in building better client relationships. Given the expanding customer base, smart initiatives such as online bill payment, smart payment cards, web-based portals and mobile applications can go a long way in improving the utilities’ operational performance as well as customer satisfaction.