The business need.
Severn Trent supplies water to over 4.3 million homes and businesses – so it’s no surprise that it has a busy customer contact centre. Its 400+ frontline service staff take thousands of calls a day. As a fully regulated business, it has to deliver a high standard of service performance, responding to queries promptly 24×7. Further, like all utilities, it is always under scrutiny in terms of the prices and service it offers customers.
The Severn Trent team had recognised that, to keep up with customer expectations, it needed to move away from its voice-based service model to a digital-first one. That entailed upping the game when it came to digital service channels: increasing their availability and capability, including for self-service, and improving the integration between channels to give customers more choice about how they interact with the business.
Severn Trent approached Connect to enquire about a cloud contact centre solution. Connect’s experts quickly 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 first step was the migration of all 400 advisors to the new platform. Connect was able to provide a proof of concept Genesys Cloud solution to Severn Trent at speed, before working with the utility’s in-house ICT function to ensure all advisors were equipped and skilled to use the Genesys solution.
With the fundamentals in place, Connect and Severn Trent worked closely together to develop the digital CX. A prime focus was self-service, creating user-friendly solutions incorporating automation and chatbots to manage a growing range of interactions without needing an agent. Text-based messaging channels were also enhanced and publicised prominently on the customer-facing website.
Alongside this, changes were made to the way calls are handled. A voice-based IVR solution has been used for faster identification and verification of callers; this is 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 all helped reduce the volume of incoming calls, while also providing the foundation for advisors to answer the remaining calls more effectively. They have better access to customer information and a shared knowledge base when handling calls – so can personalise interactions and advise on the most relevant steps to take.
Connect has also supported Seven 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.
Today, approximately 24% of incoming messaging contact is now managed end-to-end by the automated solutions (bots), radically reducing the cost to serve and delivering a highly effective service for customers.
That helps reduce the volume of calls to the business, meaning that the small number of customers with a genuine emergency – a lack of water, burst pipe or sewage issue – can get through to an agent faster. This is further supported by increases in the proportion of customers who opt for a callback rather than waiting in a queue (now 16% of all calls) 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 the solution, and hopes to see this increase still further.
A growing share of those callers are successfully identified and verified using voice IVR before they get through to an agent. That, coupled with the intent-based routing and CRM integration, means that the conversations between customers and agents are shorter yet far more effective: average handle time has reduced by 10% and first contact resolution rates have increased.
This more responsive service is supported by the integration of the different channels into a single CRM database, so agents always have a consolidated view of the customer and their previous interactions – enabling them to personalise the service they provide. This has resulted in a substantial reduction in complaints (11%) about customer service. With a lower volume of complaints, the Severn Trent complaints team has been able to respond faster to the small number it does receive, with clear impact: the team won an Institute of Customer Service award for Best Complaints Experience and the CCMA gave it the accolade of Best Complaints Team.
Of course, when customers are happier, the contact centre team is happier too: the latest Quest (internal satisfaction) scores show an impressive 8.6/10. It’s a less stressful environment, with agents able to focus on more complex or urgent issues. This feels more rewarding for them – which is helping reduce attrition.
Across every measure, the solution has delivered tangible benefits in terms of the customer and colleague experience – which in turn is driving operational effectiveness, resulting in savings that can be passed on to customers.