A Water Company

One of the lowest-ranked water companies approached Ember transform the way they were operating and so raise their performance and ranking levels.

The Requirement

From 2020, customers in England and Wales will be able to select their domestic water supplier. For the already tightly regulated water industry, this presents a major challenge but also an opportunity, to win new customers outside the historic operating regions.

Recognising the challenge ahead, one water company approached us to help transform its operations – and in particular address its long-term performance issues which had seen it remain towards the bottom of regulator OFWAT’s rankings.

The Solution

We took an immersive approach to gain a full understanding of the existing processes to explain why the organisation had been deemed so comparatively unfavourable to OFWAT that it earned such a low ranking. We conducted an operational review, spending time across multiple sites within business areas that were under the umbrella of customer relations – such as billing, service and metering. As well as making general observations, the team listened to customer calls, conducted a system review that included the extraction and the use of data across 14 different systems, and a data analysis. We also spent time with the client’s own teams, interviewing employees, advisors and key stakeholders.

One key challenge we identified was that, despite having copious amount of management information, the company had no insightful data to see how its current operation was functioning and therefore what needed to be done to help it become more up to date, digitised and with automated self-serve options.

It was evident that from early on that the foundations of the contact centre operations were hindering the company’s ability to improve service performance and take advantage of digital technologies. The little self-service functionality that they had was far from streamlined or fully automated, and was hampered by the need for human intervention in the processes.

We undertook customer journey mapping through workshop sessions, and created a Customer Demand Value Model – a methodology that helped identify the value of different categories of interactions to inform investment decisions.

Additionally, as well as making general observations, the team listened to customer calls, conducted a system review that included the extraction and the use of data across 14 different systems, and a data analysis. Our team spent time with the client’s own teams, interviewing employees, advisors and key stakeholders.

We undertook customer journey mapping that incorporated these disparate systems through workshop sessions, and worked through the water company’s Customer Demand Value Model – a methodology that helps identify the value of the client’s customer interactions ie. the functions that are identified to be valuable to both customers and organisation, valuable to one party but not the other, or mutually irritating.

Throughout this process of discovery, it was evident that the foundations of the contact centre operations were hindering the company’s ability to both improve service performance and take advantage of digital technologies. The little self-service functionality that they had was far from streamlined or fully automated, and was hampered by the need for human intervention in the processes.

The Result

Our fundamental recommendation was that the only way the organisation could improve its performance and become ready for the future was to focus first on building the right operational foundation to support its long term goals. Only then could it introduce digital services and offer self-service functions to its customers.

With our guidance and analysis, the water company took our recommendations on board and addressed the foundations first. That gave it the basis to introduce a fully automated self-serve function that now allows customers to have a quicker response, reduces the number of touchpoints required and enables a more proactive relationship to take place. This is one of several workstreams that have led to measurable improvement in its customers’ experience.

“A thorough approach, great value added from the consultants working with us, many have developed an honest and transparent working relationship with our team.

Ember asked relevant questions and facilitated our group sessions well. They implemented a variety of approaches, helping us draw out the relevant answers, and shared solutions to assist our current pain points. The analysis completed in 2017 was invaluable in the absence of us having the relevant skills in the business at that time”

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