United Utilities improves water services for seven million people with Salesforce
Clean drinking water: it’s the one product that everyone needs every day. And United Utilities helps ensure it reaches around seven million people in the North West of England through a network of more than 40,000 kilometres of pipes, 200 reservoirs, and 80 treatment works.
But that’s just the start of the challenge for United Utilities: its customers increasingly expect more than just a constant supply of clean drinking water and reliable wastewater services. From fewer leaks and faster repairs to easier payment options and lower bills, consumers - and regulators - want water providers to demonstrate constant improvement and innovation. And United Utilities is using apps, analytics, and digital maps to rise to the challenge.
“To deliver more value to our customers, we need to become more efficient through the implementation of new technologies and processes,“ said Simon Chadwick, Digital Services and Central Operations Director for United Utilities. “With Salesforce, we can help our teams work faster and smarter, so we can provide better customer service at a lower cost.”
United Utilities makes waves with digitalisation.
“With Salesforce, we now have central visibility of the customer journey in real time. It’s given us a single view of our water and wastewater operations across the North West.”
Empowering teams and partners to work faster and smarter.
United Utilities partnered with Accenture to design and deliver the new solution to coincide with the start of the new regulatory period in April 2020. “We had just 12 months to make it happen,” said Chadwick. “We had never done anything on this scale before - and we were the first water company in the UK to attempt it.” As a true Trailblazer, United Utilities landed the solution on time and on budget. It is now used by 2,000 people across five organisations with around 800 new contacts and 900 new work orders added every day.
With Field Service and Service Cloud, work orders can be seamlessly shared with sub-contractors on their mobiles and automated updates sent to customers. And it can all happen a lot faster: for example, United Utilities has reduced the time it takes to raise a work order by 60%. “Our field teams now have visibility of previous issues and repairs, which means they can have more informed conversations with customers when responding to incidents,” said Chadwick.
Putting assets and issues on the map.
By pioneering an integration between Salesforce and a geographic information system, United Utilities has taken this visibility to a whole new level. “We need to help our teams visualise problems and assets in different areas across the region,” explained Tim Stanley, Head of Data and Analytics at United Utilities. “We can now provide field workers and contact centre agents with access to quick view maps, which helps us react faster to localised issues and trends.”
Supervisors can also view photos captured on the Field Service Lighting mobile app to ensure roadworks are set up safely and sites cleared correctly. Collaboration between 500 field workers and 400 contact centre agents has improved too thanks to Chatter, an enterprise social networking tool, which has been integrated with the Field Service mobile app.
Providing a more personalised response to customers.
Better collaboration is just the tip of the transformation iceberg for the contact centre team at United Utilities. The previous system only captured the first contact with a customer, which meant it was difficult to track a case through to resolution. With Service Cloud, the team can not only see the progress of individual cases but also if they are linked to other issues reported in the area. This has helped to reduce the number of on-site call-outs for related problems.
The data captured in Service Cloud also enables contact centre agents to identify vulnerable customers and check satisfaction levels, which means they can provide a more personalised and proactive response across multiple channels. “With Service Cloud, we can manage inbound and outbound customer interactions more effectively and empower our agents with better access to richer information,” added Chadwick.
By integrating Service Cloud with its website, United Utilities will be able to improve visibility of the status of work requests and repairs for customers.
United Utilities taps in to 250,000 analytics queries every day.
The data captured in Service Cloud and Field Service feeds into a trailblazing data science programme, which enables United Utilities to run around 250,000 analytics queries every day. Tableau sits at the heart of this programme and is used by 2,000 people across the business to analyse everything from rainfall and reservoir levels to customer service and satisfaction metrics.
“We want to extract more value from our data to help our teams make smarter decisions,” explained Stanley. “By using Tableau as part of our data science platform, we can consolidate billions of rows of data from more than 30 source systems to generate analytics that help improve operational performance and the customer experience.”
These analytics have already enabled United Utilities to reduce its energy consumption by up to 15% at target sites and reduce overall costs by more than £850,000 per annum as part of a strategic energy management programme.
Richer insights have also helped improve the efficiency of the field teams responsible for assets such as water and wastewater treatment works and pumping stations. For example, by analysing daily schedules, United Utilities was able to identify more efficient ways to manage the teams’ time and capture details on work undertaken This resulted in a 50% reduction in unallocated time in field workforce schedules. “By optimising how we use our resources, we can provide a faster response to major incidents, such as a sewer flooding after a storm,” added Chadwick.
Analytics reveal new water consumption trends.
United Utilities doesn’t just want to improve outcomes for its current customers; it wants to safeguard water supply for future generations. And that means understanding consumption - especially during peaks in demand. “During the COVID-19 pandemic, water consumption changed dramatically as more people were working from home,” explained Stanley. “With Tableau, we were able to visualise whether we had sufficient resources to meet demand during the peak summer period.”
Ensuring people had access to clean drinking water and wastewater services was a top priority for United Utilities during the pandemic. It helped more than 120,000 customers with a £3.5 million support scheme and made it easier for people to apply for reduced social tariffs.
Online trails simplify learning and boost engagement.
The pandemic also forced United Utilities to rethink its approach to training. With a new release of the Integrated Network Solution due to hit when most of its 5,000 employees were still working from home, United Utilities needed to find a way to deliver remote learning on a massive scale - and fast. Within six weeks, it launched 40 modules on MyTrailhead for 2,000 employees, including contact centre agents, field workers, and sales reps.
The new online learning platform has been a massive success, with more than one million points earned in just three weeks and 96% of training completed prior to the launch of the new release. “With MyTrailhead, we can create smaller learning modules, which are easier for people to complete,” said Jo Nixon, Deployment Lead at United Utilities. “It enables us to track activity levels for different trails and to use gamification techniques to encourage participation through the allocation of points and badges.”
MyTrailhead had been such a success that United Utilities is developing new trailmixes to simplify the onboarding of new recruits and to help people return to the office safely as COVID-19 lockdown restrictions evolve.