The Customer in Focus

Stadtwerke Krefeld consolidates processes and range of services into central customer portal

The Krefeld municipal utilities company (Stadtwerke Krefeld AG, SWK) consists of a number independently operating companies. With the support of Lufthansa Industry Solutions (LHIND), SWK is now consolidating everything the constituent companies offer into centralized customer service portals, something that will also be rolled out for the end customer in the future. Merging customer data in a cloud-based IT platform allows for more optimized processing of customer queries, thus significantly improving the customer experience.

The Customer

As a central service provider, SWK supplies the city of Krefeld and the surrounding area with energy, water, transport and waste disposal services. The highly dynamic nature of the energy market requires a clear focus on the customer, as well as digitalized and efficiently organized sales across various channels. 3,000 employees work tirelessly to ensure that SWK’s customers are provided with sustainable, forward-thinking services, and that the best possible range of products and services is available for them.

Services LHIND provide Stadtwerke Krefeld at a glance:
  • Business analysis for the development of a central IT platform
  • Consulting on, and implementing, a cloud architecture
  • Development of middleware as a data hub between backend and content management systems
  • Agile project management based on Scrum

The Group comprises various companies that are not only responsible for energy supplies and local transportation, but that also provide a range of other public services. With SWCAR and the KRuiser scheme, they offer modern mobility concepts, provide free access to wireless internet on municipal public transportation, and act as a reliable partner for major events within the city, such as the open-air cinema or running events, as well as promoting sports, culture, and social institutions.

The Challenge

The companies that form SWK act independently to supply energy, water, transport and waste disposal services. Their various websites were previously organized independently of each other, and customer data and requests were managed and processed separately in different backend systems. This made it more difficult for SWK Group employees to handle customer queries across the board. For example, if a customer provides new bank details, the change previously had to be made individually in each system. At the same time, the existence of different systems prevented customers from being able to review and edit all their services and contracts at a glance. SWK’s array of different websites also prevented customers from accessing the Group’s overall portfolio, which made successful cross-selling and upselling difficult.

The company was, therefore, on the lookout for a digital solution that would consolidate customer data across the Group in order to simplify and standardize the manner in which service employees handle this data. In future, they will be able to utilize a single application to obtain a clear overview of any one customer’s business relationships across the Group and make wholesale changes – this simplification is intended to reduce processing costs. Simultaneously, with the development of a centralized portal, SWK is aiming for transparency and self-management, allowing customers to view all their contracts in a uniform online environment and manage them immediately. All of this should make it easier to process customer orders across the Group and foster a positive customer experience, all the while reducing costs.

A uniform content management system was also required both to give a clearer view of the overall portfolio and to serve as a common public web presence.

The Solution

SWK brought Lufthansa Industry Solutions on board to assist in this project. Indeed, all their experience in the development of customer portals in the energy sector proved vital in supporting the company on its journey towards digitalization. In the run-up to the project (dubbed #smarttouch), LHIND conducted a business analysis for the development of a standardized service and customer portal. This demonstrated that LHIND both understood the technical challenges faced by SWK and was equipped with the technology required for achieving the best possible results. In developing the customer portal, SWK and LHIND opted for agile project management based on Scrum. Since cloud infrastructures and microservice architecture were new territories for SWK, this was the best method for gradually and repeatedly checking the project implementation, thus ensuring the quality of the software ultimately developed.

LHIND designed the essential building blocks for the new application, as well as for the necessary cloud infrastructures. Customer data was merged into Golden Records and it is now stored in a jointly developed master data management system. The middleware they developed, and for which they were responsible until November 2019, acts as a data hub, linking the backend systems with a new content management system, utilizing a microservice architecture running in a Kubernetes cluster.

With the exception of the backend systems, the application is located entirely on the Microsoft Azure cloud computing platform. Communication with the backend, which is operated on-site, fulfills the highest security standards. To ensure remote work can be conducted in the best possible way, other various collaboration platforms were used in the development process. Sitecore serves as the content management system for the companies’ websites. All websites were developed using responsive design and can be accessed on a PC, tablet or smartphone.

LHIND has handed its responsibility for the 2019 #smarttouch project to SWK’s newly established #2EKD department, but continues to provide advice and support in the development process as a means of helping implement energy industry processes successfully into the customer journey. In addition, and independently of the project, LHIND provides the Stadtwerke with advice on updating existing SAP applications and migrating to other SAP modules.

Tools and techniques used:
  • Agile software development based on Scrum
  • Microsoft Azure as a cloud computing platform
  • Dockers for application isolation
  • Kubernetes to automate the deployment, scaling and management of applications
  • Sitecore as a content management system
  • Java and Vue.js
  • SAP

Benefits for the Customer

#Smarttouch brings Stadtwerke Krefeld one clear step closer towards digitalization. The result is a uniform, cloud-based customer portal that considerably simplifies the way in which service employees work. For the most part, the various companies’ employees and, in particular, the call center staff work with the new system. With the consolidation of customer data into the Golden Records and the implementation of the necessary service masks, the master data change procedures, new customer contact detail entry and meter readings, along with other links to the backend system, run much more efficiently. All necessary information can be entered at a glance. Thanks to the user-friendly input, employees can process customer queries much more efficiently, which can only serve to benefit the customer. The new portal saves SWK money, while also creating a positive customer experience.

However, not only do the customers benefit from more efficient procedures, rather there are also genuine opportunities for interaction. They can view all contracts and services taken out with the various companies within the SWK Group transparently in the customer portal. At the same time, the self-administration aspect of the project allows them to take ownership of their experience, as they will be able to make changes – such as editing bank data, master data or entering meter readings – themselves.

The all-new product advisor feature also provides new customers with a further energy sector sales module for their electricity and gas.

An overview – how the LHIND solution has helped the Stadtwerke Krefeld:
  • A uniform internet presence consolidates everything SWK offers in one place
  • Consolidation of all customer data simplifies processing for employees
  • Positive customer experience as queries are processed and dealt with more quickly
  • Transparency and ownership – customers get an overview of their contracts and can make changes to them
  • Increased sales potential for cross- and up-selling

“LHIND is a professional service provider that draws on impressive levels of specialist expertise and technical innovations. Using agile project development, we have succeeded in bringing everyone involved together to form a high-performance team that has never lost sight of its aims – achieving the best for our customers!”

Philipp Sacherow
Head of IT & Organization