Water 2020: “Uberizing” the Water Sector

With more pressure from consumers to deliver better experiences and the introduction of C-MeX, the industry has to act now to make the change.

In many ways, the third decade of the twenty-first century is shaping up to be the age of the consumer – and industries are already adapting to that shift today. We are in the fourth industrial revolution the IConomy, everything is digital, on-demand and putting consumers in control. 

Today’s consumers are becoming accustomed to the customer experiences delivered by the likes of Deliveroo, Amazon Prime and Uber. As we see an industry-wide move towards service-centric revenue strategies, field service companies are now moving beyond the traditional view of service as an afterthought to support the sales of products.

The water sector has had a monopoly for many years but with more pressure from consumers to deliver better experiences and the introduction of C-MeX, the industry has to act now to make the change. As we enter a new decade the water sector will have to address industry standards and customer demands and start delivering “Uberized” experiences. 

Delivering on C-MeX

The introduction of the Customer Measure of Experience (C-MeX) in Ofwat’s price review (PR19) was the first step to help incentivise the water sector to put customers at the centre of their services. C-MeX measures four key areas: customer service, customer experience, Net Promoter Score (NPS) and complaint handling. With C-MeX in place customers will want to quickly see vast improvements to customer experiences, they want customer experience 4.0

Customer Experience 4.0 is the logical evolution of how we have connected with our customers historically. Translating this evolution into the water sector: 

→CX 1.0 was an arrival knock on the door from the engineer - no communication at all.

→CX 2.0 was a direct mail notification of the engineer appointment.

→CX 3.0 was disconnected SMS and email improved customer communication. 

Many water companies are still struggling to embrace CX version 3.0 even today; such is the current poor state of last mile communications within field service. These methods of communication are already outdated as we move firmly into the fourth iteration of customer expectations of last mile customer communications – real-time mobile experiences.

Our research has found that customers top three demands are: 

→89% of customers want an ‘uberized’ experience.
→32% want to be able find live locations on a map. 
→54% want job status notifications.
→41% of customers want to rate customer service following on from the appointment. 

 

“Uberizing” the water sector 

Our research found that 72% of respondents believe that, in terms of adapting to new technology, utilities are well behind other industries. The inflexible communication channels provided by the sector do not reflect today’s communication technology and consumers’ interaction preferences. With C-MeX in place water companies are now measured on their digital communication offerings and will need to offer five communication channels, including at least three online channels, to receive contacts and complaints. 

With customer needs changing by the day, sometimes by the minute, services need to be flexible and available on a variety of platforms. Consumers want convenience and this may mean monitoring an upcoming appointment out and about on their mobile, tablet or in the future via virtual assistants and smart watches. Companies today must become individual-centric and quickly learn to stay one step ahead of consumers’ ever-changing expectations in order to deliver the expected levels of service. 

Lessons from the energy sector 

The energy sector has been leading the way towards being more customer centric over the past year and has seen significant benefits. Introducing smart meters and price comparison services like uSwitch, has given new power and control to consumers. Consumers only need their postcode and a recent energy bill to switch gas and electricity supplier when they wish.

Choice, control and transparency for consumers can lead to higher engagement levels, providing the opportunity for utility companies to build trust and create better overall experiences. 

Significantly, it also reduces friction in delivering customer services, removing cost-to-serve and improving employee satisfaction and retention. According to  ForeSee’s 2018 Utilities CX Insights report, 80% of customers would forego the call centre if provided with an ideal online experience.

With government talks around compulsory water meters for all UK households taking place, the water industry will need to efficiently fit water meters to hundreds and thousands of homes. Utilising technology could be the saving grace for the sector. 

 

British Gas: ‘On My Way’

British Gas has developed its customer experience platform and has seen no-access, failed appointments fall by 17%.

Its “on my way” communication advises customers of their engineer’s live ETA, enabling them to track their approach on a real-time map and interact directly with their engineer when required.

This interaction not only prevents customer no-shows and enables appointment rescheduling, but also gives customers the freedom to get on with their day, without fear of missing their engineer.

Field-Service-British Gas-1

 

With a water meter rollout on the cards and  C-MeX in place, the water sector has a real opportunity to learn from the energy sector. Integrating a variety of communication channels for consumers, offering more choice, control and transparency is set to drastically improve customer experiences in the industry. Customers will benefit from improved service levels, while water companies have the opportunity to dramatically improve operational efficiencies. 

“Uberize” with Localz 

Localz has helped to ‘Uberize’ utilities providers including British Gas, Welsh Water, OVO, Rentokil and Autoglass.

Our highly configurable platform has been built from the ground up to help large enterprises to make the day of service awesome. We address the needs of the key stakeholders within the last mile chain: 

Customers

Customers can track their engineers arrival times with real-time estimates, geo- triggered automatic email/SMS notifications reducing anxiety calls and improving their happiness with the service.

Technicians

Technicians can provide a consistent and quality service experience without needing to spend precious time stopping to call and receive up-to-the-minute accurate information that assists them in getting the job completed first time, every time.

Office personnel

Office staff gain real-time visibility and insight into the performance of their service operations from their desk. They’re able to intervene and communicate from one simple interface and dashboard.

Business benefits

Without needing to change anything in the existing business process and workflow, this layer of smart, location and order-status triggered communications provides immediate business benefits of:

→Improving first time access rate
→Reducing expensive calls to contact centres
→Increasing customer advocacy

Localz is currently working with Welsh Water, who are looking to improve and automate their customer communication process for domestic engineer appointments.

Using Localz field service solutions, their clean and wastewater teams have seen an increase field engineers’ productivity and satisfaction, as well as an increase in first time access rates.

 


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