Enabling the digital transformation of customer services at Severn

Severn Trent has been able to radically improve its customer service by adopting a cloud-based contact centre approach. Here’s how.

As water companies continue to explore the benefits of digital technology for customer services, Severn Trent is no exception. The utility has recently been able to automate responses to a third of its incoming messages, answering them by chatbot and other digital technologies rather than contact centre operator.

Indeed, chatbots now successfully manage 24% of incoming messages end-to-end at the utility. That helps reduce the volume of calls to the business, meaning that customers experiencing emergencies – a lack of water, burst pipe or sewage issue – can get through to an agent faster.

The problem

Severn Trent supplies water to over 4.3 million homes and businesses and its 400 frontline service staff take thousands of calls a day. Like utilities across the country, it is under a lot of scrutiny when it comes to customer service.

The Severn Trent team recognised it needed to move away from the company’s voice-based service model to a digital-first approach. That meant increasing the availability and capability of digital channels, including those for self-service, and improving the integration between them, giving customers more choice about how they interact with the business.

Severn Trent approached Connect about developing a cloud contact centre. Connect’s experts identified that, given the contact volumes it typically manages and the extensive functionality of its existing operation, Severn Trent would be best served by a solution based on the Genesys Cloud contact centre.

The solution

All contact centre advisers were migrated onto the Genesys Cloud platform. Connect and Severn Trent worked together to develop the digital CX. A prime focus was self-service, creating user-friendly solutions incorporating automation and chatbots. Text-based messaging channels were also enhanced and publicised prominently on the customer website.

Alongside this, changes were made to the way calls are handled. A voice-based IVR (interactive voice response) solution has been used for faster identification and verification of callers, supported by intent-based routing of calls. Customers with non-urgent issues are also offered the option of a callback, or switch to WhatsApp, while geographically-targeted IVR messages alert callers to known problems in their area – frequently reducing queues and assuring customers.

These solutions have provided the foundation for advisors to answer the remaining calls more effectively. Advisors have better access to customer information and a shared knowledge base when handling calls, and can personalise interactions, advising on the most relevant steps to take. Connect has also supported Severn Trent in increasing its use of interaction analytics, enabling it to learn from the voice of the customer to improve the way it handles common issues.

The results

The number and duration of calls to the contact centre has gone down. There have been increases in the proportion of customers who opt for a callback (now 16% of all calls) rather than waiting in a queue, or who choose to send a WhatsApp message (14%).

Overall, Severn Trent is now able to answer 95% of all incoming calls, up from 84% when it deployed Genesys Cloud.

There has also been a substantial reduction in complaints (down 11%) and an increase in employee engagement: the latest Quest (internal satisfaction) scores show an impressive 8.6/10.

Finally, the customer service team won an Institute of Customer Service award for Best Complaints Experience and the Call Centre Management Association gave it the accolade of Best Complaints Team.

Learn more about how to deliver an improved experience for customers with Genesys Cloud here.