Keytree delivers Customer Contact Transformation Programme

The customer is responsible for water management, supply, waste water treatment and disposal in the catchment areas of two of the UK’s largest rivers. Driven by a need to digitise processes, the customer management team are changing how the organisation operates, with a strong focus on utilising technology orientated processes – both internally and externally.

Ofwat, the Water Services Regulation Authority, is responsible for the economic regulation of the water and sewerage industry in England and Wales and use its Service Incentive Mechanism (SIM) to encourage water companies to improve levels of customer service and reduce complaints. The customer regularly scores higher than the national average in the annual SIM reports although its ongoing research into continued improvements highlighted the value of technology to build more resilience into its systems.

Keytree transformed the Customer Contact Centre by implementing a range of new digital services to create a single working environment for agents – improving efficiency and customer liaison, which will help increase their performance against Ofwat’s SIM reports.

The new system allows both sets of agents to offer assistance and support to each other during their busy periods. Billing agents can assist in winter, and operational agents can help in February or March when annual bills are being prepared.

Combining resources into one single view

Utility customers are dealt with by one of two teams – one for billing or payment enquiries and the second for operations but these departments operate on two separate systems. The challenges faced by water companies are also seasonal – the peak period for annual billing is February and March, and when the winter months arrive, customer service agents are busy dealing with weather-related issues such as burst water mains or frozen pipes.

Agents only had access to their appropriate system so Keytree’s customer embarked upon the Customer Contact Transformation Programme to create a solution that would connect the two systems, improve customer service and make life easier for its customer service specialists. Keytree used its technical expertise to navigate and understand the needs of the two teams of customer service agents to create a single unified solution.

Having two separate teams dealing with the same customers meant recording information in silos. A customer with a billing query may have already spoken to an agent on numerous occasions regarding a burst water main, but the agent dealing with the same customer’s finance issue would not be aware of this, potentially leading to reduced SIM scores.

Keytree delivered a new frontend solution to create a single environment for agents to work across both billing and operations, with a single screen view so users can address client issues and understand the current status of each utility customer. The solution interacts with both SAP and its legacy Cobal billing system, which runs the operational and billing parts of the organisation. The controls in place are a vital part of the business process, and by using their extensive experience in enterprise environments, Keytree took an Agile approach which enabled quicker phased delivery.

Creating a solution to support customer needs

To provide the required customer benefits against tight timelines, the traditional delivery approach taken by the customer needed to be augmented by Keytree, using its Agile delivery methodology. This method allowed Keytree to define and build a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) to ensure the first phase was delivered within a six-month timeline. The MVP was then piloted and rolled out to over 500 call centre staff with further enhancements delivered on a phased basis to avoid significant disruption to the business or its customers.

Following the success of the MVP, new functionality was delivered in three phases. These additional features included simplified billing, payment and meter history information, a streamlined ‘Home Move’ procedure and regular payments journeys plus a decision tree report process for reporting and resolving problems.

If the same customer calls today, the utility agent will see a red or amber colour on the caller’s profile and a tap icon, detailing the phone calls made by the utility customer regarding water issues. Agents may not be able to solve these problems but are more empowered and have a greater understanding of what’s going on. The new system allows both sets of agents to offer assistance and support to each other during their busy periods. Billing agents can assist in winter, and operational agents can help in February or March when annual bills are being prepared – before this, each team would work in silos, but now workloads can be easily shared.