Delta Natural Gas serves 40,000 customers in central and southeastern Kentucky with more than 2,200 miles of gas gathering, transmission, and distribution lines. It also owns an underground gas storage field.
The regulated utility buys its gas from Kentucky suppliers, marketers, and has its own gas production subsidiary, Enpro that has interests in 56 producing wells and proved reserves of 3.8 billion cu. ft. of natural gas. Other subsidiaries include Delta Resources and Delgasco, which purchase gas from marketers and resell it to utilities and large customers. With 157 employees, Delta Natural Gas had sales of $46M in 2000.
In spite of its relatively small size, Delta Natural Gas nevertheless faces the same customer support and service challenges of its larger counterparts. One of those challenges is finding a better way to electronically capture, store and retrieve the hundreds of pages of daily customer payment
transactions generated from Delta's five customer service locations.
Furthermore, Delta wanted its customer representatives to be able to see a customer's bill in the same format as the customer sees it, not as a text-based report. Being able to
instantly access and retrieve a customer's bill online in its original form would offer tremendous customer service benefits as well as save printing costs and increase employee efficiency in problem resolution.
DataTrade's Spoolview suite of report content management software provided the solution. "Spoolview provided a level of functionality we never had before," said John Brown, Controller.
Spoolview automatically collects reports generated from AS/400 out queues using its proprietary report collection module designed specifically for this task. This eliminates any manual intervention and allows all report collection to function as an unattended, "lights out" operation. It indexes, compresses and stores reports on magnetic, RAID, optical, CD/DVD or tape, and services retrieval requests from stand-alone Windows PCs, or LAN, WAN Internet or Intranet-based PCs.
Using Spoolview's form overlay feature, report content is displayed in its original form. With Spoolview, Delta stores the data from each customer's bill in an electronic repository as it is generated from the company's AS/400. Customer's utility bills can be instantly retrieved on-line and, with a keystroke, formatted and presented in their original form. "Customer expectations run very high for quick, accurate billing resolution," said Brown. "Spoolview allows our cashiers to quickly pinpoint information a customer has a question about. Instead of us looking at our text-based report and the customer looking at their bill, Spoolview allows both customers and representatives to look at the same document with the information in the same place on the page, which means we can address a customer's questions much more quickly," said Brown. "Both our ability to answer their questions, and most importantly, our credibility with customers have increased dramatically."
"Our employees especially appreciate the ease with which they can access exactly the information they are looking for," said Brown. Spoolview's robust processing engine indexes and compresses reports at up to 2,000,000 pages per hour. Users can perform sophisticated searches, and view, print or fax the results, or export to other applications. If needed, Spoolview allows users to e-mail or fax report information directly from the workstation. Spoolview is scaleable from a single user to thousands of users, and can be implemented in any host or network environment.
Spoolview also provides multi-level password security for payroll reports, which are also processed through Spoolview. Daily report printouts are now virtually eliminated, yet the secured information remains "live" and stored on-line for easy retrieval by any authorized user when and where they need it. "What's really great is that we're printing far fewer reports than we used to, with no loss of information availability or integrity."
Delta Gas spent six months evaluating various software products before deciding on Spoolview.
"We're very conservative when it comes to moving to new technologies. But the wait was worth it. Of all the products we reviewed, none had the unique combination of features and benefits of Spoolview," said Brown. "We found some that offered archival only, but lacked searching and indexing capabilities. Others offered a different set of features, but none put it all together in one package. It's everything we wanted and more. DataTrade was the clear choice for us."
In an industry where positive customer relationships is critical to long-term success, Delta Natural Gas is taking a proactive step to keep their customers satisfied with the addition of Spoolview software. Its long list of features and functionality allow Delta employees to have a better tool to resolve customer questions with more confidence. Delta's payroll department has significantly reduced printing costs by keeping information live and on-line for instant access by authorized users. "We have gotten totally positive feedback from our employees, ," said Brown. "Our people love it!"