DŵrCymru Welsh Water – Customer Service Case Study

Genesys provides the contact centre and customer service technology to help DŵrCymru Welsh Water become the best water company in the UK.

Welsh Water customer service

Genesys provides the contact centre and customer service technology to help DŵrCymru Welsh Water achieve its aspiration – to be recognised by its customers as the best water company in the UK.

To achieve this objective, Welsh Water realised that it needed to review its operations and make investment decisions in order to ensure the support of its comprehensive customer service strategy.

DŵrCymru Welsh Water (Welsh Water) serves 1.2 million households and 100,000 business customers. The company operates on a ‘not for profit’ basis, regulated by the Water Services Regulation Authority (OFWAT), and is run solely for the benefit of customers. It delivers over 900 million litres of drinking water each day, employs assets worth £25 billion, and invests £250 million every year, making it the sixth largest water and sewerage company in the UK.

Its ‘Operational Contact Centre’ is operated 24 x 7 x 365 by Welsh Water staff, while management of ’Billing and Income’ (with its associated second contact centre) is outsourced to Veolia Water. Between them, the two contact centres (located in Cardiff) receive 1.2 million calls per year.

Welsh Water was faced with a number of challenges. These included no provision for system redundancy or other fault-tolerant features). The ageing call centre management system was vulnerable to failure and in need of replacement. Separate solutions for operations and finance from different suppliers were difficult to support with poor integration, making reporting across the two platforms problematic. Additionally, it was location bound meaning that expansion of the contact centre was restricted by the limits of the existing building. Welsh Water had hit the system’s functional limits and had no future roadmap to take new services forward.

The company recognised that achieving its customer service aspirations meant more than just being quicker to answer calls. The system had to facilitate excellent customer service and help reduce the number of contacts each customer makes, delivering optimum first time resolution. Tim Hughes, head of performance and customer service at Welsh Water describes his ideal as, “A service incentive mechanism made up of processes that actively encourage ownership and accountability, and thus improve Customer Service. Our Contact Centre has to handle a huge volume of calls and give our customers confidence that we are dealing with their enquiry or emergency as quickly and efficiently as possible.”

Chris Jones, finance director at Welsh Water, says, “Having first class communications with our customers is absolutely vital to us. We provide an essential service, so customers need to know they can get through to us quickly and that we have the information to hand to understand their problem immediately.”

The importance of an integrated solution

To avoid the pre-existing reporting and support issues Welsh Water identified a fully integrated system as a key selection criterion. After a competitive tender process, the company chose Genesys contact centre software with an Alcatel-Lucent OmniPCX Enterprise telephony system, and the NICE call and screen recording solution and analytics platform. NextiraOne, an Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise business partner, was selected to manage the implementation and to ensure full integration with Welsh Water’s existing SAP system and potential future developments.

As Hughes explains, “Together with NextiraOne, Alcatel-Lucent Genesys provided a fully integrated solution with a single-point-of-contact. We chose this solution because of the maturity of the Genesys and Alcatel-Lucent products, and because we could see a clear roadmap of future developments delivered by adopting it as our core technology. They were successful against incumbent suppliers because of the level of expertise they were able to demonstrate during the tender process, their substantial Utility footprint and know-how, proving that they can solve the unique issues facing UK water utilities.”

Meeting OFWATs strict criteria

At the outset of the project, Welsh Water made a commitment to OFWAT that migration to the new system would have no negative impact on customers. The new solution is highly resilient, utilising two data centres with a resilient network serving the single platform running at both call centres. The primary data centre runs the live Genesys solution and is mirrored by the secondary which can kick-in should a failure of the primary system occur.

The customer contact centre was relocated to a new building creating space for expansion and reorganisation. The new system’s flexible architecture allows the simple addition of sites and easy reorganisation of agents.

The core of the system is the Genesys Customer Interaction Management Platform which has been implemented across the Customer Service organisation. This platform processes customer calls intelligently so that they are immediately routed to the right resource. The solution manages all inbound voice calls and also provisions the Outbound enabling bulk campaigns such as debt collection to be automated.

Reporting is now handled using Genesys Infomart, together with Genesys Interactive Insights and Genesys Work Force Management (WFM). All agents navigate the system using the Genesys Agent desktop. These reporting tools help managers to review information across the whole system. An easy to use common user interface makes training and support simple.

Welsh Water’s service incentive mechanisms now operate by promoting agile working and ensure that agents take ownership of issues from start to resolution. Operational efficiency is achieved by ensuring the right level of resource is available for all projected peaks and troughs in call volumes. Agents are less stressed and can focus on delivering great service to each customer, no matter what the nature of their call.

The phased migration for the 600 contact centre staff allowed training to be carried out efficiently one week before each agent changed to the Genesys system. Floor walkers were at hand to provide instant support to the newly trained staff.

Welsh Water was impressed with the implementation and new system which ensured its commitment to OFWAT was met in full. “The company worked seamlessly with Alcatel-Lucent Genesys Professional services and NXO throughout the implementation,” says Tim Hughes.

Achieving aspirations for the business and customers
The whole business ethos of Welsh Water is about better ways of doing business that result in improved customer service. As a result of the new system, Welsh Water can now focus on next steps. Future plans for the system include:

Reduction to a single contact number

To evolve multiple communications channels such as email and web-chat whilst maintaining communications with ‘traditional mail’. It is critical to incorporate this into the customer service process and provide the same level of service across all channels, particularly in light of the reliance on written letter communication

More proactive customer contact and actively reach-out to customers to set-up appointments for engineers, send reminders of appointments or payment dates, make customers aware of new services or breaks in service, or make ‘call-backs’ to customers unable to wait for an agent to become available.

To inform customers of outages/incidents via the IVR platform thereby freeing up agent capacity to deal with more time critical activities

Chris Jones concludes, “This solution gives us a great opportunity to take the business forward, and to offer new routes of communication to our customers that match their changing expectations. It has allowed us to build a highly responsive and fully compliant customer service environment which is delivering excellent quality of service to our customers.”

With one small step, Genesys enables Welsh Water to deliver on its customer promise today and be ready for the future.

About Welsh Water

DŵrCymru Welsh Water is UK’s sixth largest regulated water and Sewerage Company serving 1.2 million households and 100,000 business customers. DŵrCymru Welsh Water operates 2 contact centres in Cardiff, receiving 1.2 million calls a year through irregular peaks in activity. The Operational Contact Centre is manned 24 x 7 x 365 and managed by DŵrCymru Welsh Water staff. The Billing and Income centre is outsourced to Veolia Water.

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