Case Study

Regional Energy Company Improves Customer Experience

Regional Energy Company Improves Customer Experience


The Challenge
  • Continuous performance problems and outages with the CRM system negatively impacted customer experience
  • Users at remote locations experienced delayed access and response times accessing 3rd party Cloud applications over Wi-Fi
The Solution
  • nGeniusONE® Platform with InfiniStreamNG™
  • nGenius®PULSE Server, Collector, Hardware and Virtual nPoints
The Results
  • Improved user experience with shorter call wait times and quicker response times on self‑service portals
  • Evolved to proactive monitoring instead of reactive troubleshooting

Customer Profile

This large U.S. regional energy company employs 14,000 people across several states to manage the acquisition and delivery of natural gas as well as electric transmission, distribution, and power generation to millions of customers.

Serving more than 5 million customers across a half dozen U.S. States makes access to customer records, repair history, and smart meter records essential for efficient day‑to‑day operation of their business. The company’s IT is an integral partner responsible for the selection, deployment and maintenance of technology to drive company performance. Customer service technology, both voice and self‑service applications, is key to their innovation and growth goals.

The Challenge

The company was experiencing on‑going issues with their CRM system at many of their locations. Slow performance and outages were causing customers to experience delays on calls and when using the online portal to manage their account and pay their bill. As with most organizations with large IT environments, there is a myriad of interdependent server, application and network tiers. As is also common, the initial reaction was to blame the problems on “the network.” The 3rd party CRM vendor reported the issues were most likely due to network latency and that should be evaluated first.

The several groups within the IT team trying to get to the bottom of the CRM issues were challenged since they did not share a common tool that allowed them all to drill down to service and network component levels as well as to analyze each hop in the path of the network traffic.

A separate issue was occurring at remote locations where employees accessed 3rd party Cloud applications via Wi‑Fi connection. The user experience was not consistent, with some users enjoying immediate access and quick response times and others reporting delayed access and slow response times.

Solution in Action

The energy company is a long‑time user of the NETSCOUT® nGeniusONE platform with InfiniStreamNGs to monitor, report and triage multiple applications across several locations. However, the CRM was not regularly monitored. This, combined with the energy company’s recent upgrade to a 40 GB backbone created an opportunity to add new ISNG appliances. When the IT team focused instrumentation and workflow on the application, they immediately saw the reported delays. They also drilled into the network’s performance for latency issues only to discover that it was not actually the network causing the problem, rather, several of the application servers were overloaded, causing random and inconsistent response times. Other findings included disregard of TCP window sizing, with large files being sent that caused packets to drop and be re‑transmitted, and DNS look‑up problems with servers that did not have permissions.

To further isolate and triage the issues, the company added nGeniusPULSE with contextual workflows from nGeniusONE to provide cross organizational teams with an integrated, cohesive view of servers and network devices that impact their performance of the CRM and other critical services. Using nGeniusPULSE, they saw the hop‑by‑hop path performance and pulled stats from the devices to find the times when the app servers were overloaded. This data helped the network teams see when the network path usage becomes compromised and showed exactly when path hops are used and where there are delays.

To address the problems remote users were having accessing the cloud applications, the IT team used nGeniusPULSE virtual nPoints to verify the response time and path to the 3rd party servers. nGeniusPULSE tests revealed that the 2.4 GHz channels were overloaded; to resolve the problem they moved clients using mission‑critical applications to their 5 GHz channel.

The Results

The data provided from nGeniusONE and nGeniusPULSE helped this energy company implement network enhancements that resulted in improved customer experience using their critical CRM application. Shorter call wait times and quicker web portal response are the most apparent results. Improved coordination between the IT teams, who now have the same tool and data to identify and triage issues, is another advantage, resulting in reduced Mean‑Time‑to‑Repair (MTTR).

Even beyond improved troubleshooting, the company has evolved to proactive monitoring to identify issues before they impact customers. The NETSCOUT dashboards are highly visible in the company’s Network Ops Center, monitoring trends and highlighting potential issues.