Penrith City Council has enlisted tech giant Microsoft to expand its existing cloud-based customer relationship management (CRM) system, readying the Western Sydney-based local government for a predicted population and jobs boom.
Following last year’s successful deployment of Microsoft’s Dynamics 365 Customer Service, the council will now add Microsoft’s complementary Dynamics 365 Field Service management software – a dedicated platform to support field staff with mobile access to data and information systems.
The Council has also enlisted Velrada, a management consultant and Microsoft partner, to guide the design and development of the Dynamics environment.
While currently in user acceptance testing, the Field Service system will support council crews working on community services, such as graffiti removal, fallen tree clearing, and maintenance works for buildings, parks, and roads.
The system incorporates data from regular maintenance and work order management systems, as well as direct requests from customers through either the Council’s dedicated online customer portal, My.Penrith.City, as well as via its existing customer experience team.
“These requests, along with the regular maintenance activities, are assigned to our field crews for completion. This is all electronic and online – no more paper and when the request is from a customer they will be advised when the job is complete, even with a photo attached of the finished job,” said Penrith Council’s ICT operations manager, Jane Howard.
Up until recently, the council operated without a CRM, acknowledging the longstanding challenges it faced delivering “a comprehensive view of all customer engagements [that could] provide timely responses and follow-ups when needed”.
The Council’s quick-fire adoption of the cloud-based CRMs – the first of which went live only mid-last year – comes in response to a projected population and jobs boom within the region, with the hotly anticipated opening of the nearby Western Sydney Airport in 2026.
By 2031, Penrith’s population is predicted to reach more than 260,000, adding more than 50,000 people to the local government area.
The CRM deployments are part of a wider customer-centric initiative launched by the Council known as ‘Our Customer Promise’.
“This promise puts the customer first to drive the organisation’s decision making, to steer the prioritisation of projects, and also coaches staff on how to be proactive, keep it simple, be respectful, as well as listen and respond to the customer’s needs”, the council said in a statement.
The existing Dynamics 365 Customer Service platform was initially built to support customers for waste management services interactions. The Dynamics platform was integrated with the waste contractor’s own system, allowing the council to replace the tens of thousands of calls it received each year with more efficient online queries delivered through the My.Penrith.City portal.
Despite being in operation for less than a year, Howard said the public has been quick to embrace the new online service platform.
“Since we went live in July, we registered 16,000 requests from our customers. The majority are still received by our Customer Experience team by phone, but we’ve undergone a recent campaign trying to channel-shift customers from the traditional ‘phone-up council’ to registering them online. This channel is now growing, since starting the campaign and is becoming very, very effective.”
The Council said it has further plans to roll out the system across its jurisdictional remit, allowing for end-to-end integration of services.
“It goes to the core of what Penrith is trying to achieve in terms of enhanced customer service and the delivery of our Customer Promise,” Howard said.
“The most important thing is to be able to deliver new functionality quickly with minimal impact.
“Ultimately, we want all of our business processes to be integrated end-to-end. The experiences we’ve had with our waste program, the experience we’re having with our field services mobility projects is how we want to streamline processes and applications across all of our functions in council,” she added.