It’s been a busy-but-successful few years for utilities firm Business Stream, thanks to a renewed focus on customers and how they interact with the organisation.
Skippering Business Stream – known as ‘the Water Experts’ – as it charts a course through successful CX seas is Director of Customer Operations, Jo Mayes.
Under her watch, the firm has enjoyed victory at the UK Customer and Digital Experience Awards, and look set to give the competition a run for their money at this year’s UKCXAs, when they return to London’s Wembley Stadium on October 11.
Jo is also one of the speakers at the upcoming the Future is CX conference, hosted by Awards International at the UK headquarters of Microsoft, that will bring some of the UK’s most pioneering Customer Experience professionals together for an exclusive day of sharing best practice, which you can attend.
In an exclusive interview with CXM, Jo recounts how Business Stream utilised a huge influx of customers to redefine the experience they offer.
“In April 2017, the English water retail market opened, and we went into this new market and doubled our customer number overnight – we acquired Southern Water’s non-household customer base,” she said.
“It’s important in a competitive market to focus on Customer Experience. There’s not a lot of margins for retailers like ourselves and others in the English market, and there won’t be for while.”
Of course, pricing is only one consideration for an organisation when it comes to keeping customers on board, and Jo realised that to truly stand out, they would need to overhaul the journey their clients embark upon.
“While customers are very keen on price, Customer Experience needs to feature, because as a retailer you can’t give away a discount if there’s not a lot there in the first place,” she explained.
“It is imperative that a good experience is part of the overall consideration from brands. What we recognised was: we wanted to transform our Customer Experience. We invested heavily in digital, and we initiated our digital CX transformation programme. That was one of our entries at the last UK Customer Experience Awards, and we actually won the category.”
Describing the technology that gives them the edge in the utilities market, Jo continued:
“We completely redesigned and delivered a new Interactive Voice Response capability. It gives us a lot more flexibility in identifying customers and routing them to the right skill set in our business. We developed and launched a new virtual assistant so we could answer customer queries 24/7.
“We implemented an automated call and pay capability, and we launched our app. We worked with CapGemini and developed the app in seven weeks, from concept to delivery. A huge achievement!”
Technology is just one component of exceptional CX, and Jo was determined that Business Stream would turn on the taps when it comes to meeting expectations.
“Another thing we did was that we wanted to ask customers what kind of Customer Experience they wanted us to provide,” Jo said.
“We put in place new CX measures and really started to drive our actions based on customer sentiment and scores to try and help us target improvements in a way that would be more meaningful for our customers. Another key thing was that we looked at our customer onboarding experience and realised there were elements of dissatisfaction in that journey, so we transformed that.
“Through measurement and analysis we understood where we needed to make improvements. Some of those improvements were in communication, and we looked at it holistically to ask how can we make onboarding a more positive experience rather than something customers were showing dissatisfaction on.”
So where now for Business Stream and its journey towards ever-improving Customer Experience? Onwards and upwards.
“Recently we worked with CAP GEMINI to develop a robotic process automation solution (RPA) using AI, and that has gone live,” Jo explained.
“This is something we hope to be successful with at this year’s UK Customer Experience Awards, though I don’t want to give too much away!
“We have robots working to pull in data and help set up accounts. That has been groundbreaking for us, and it’s essentially taken the time from 10 weeks to onboard a multi-site customer to something closer to two weeks. These are real tangible benefits: we have changed out complaints journey, and we have seen an 89 percent reduction in complaints in Scotland. Ultimately it’s the customer who is benefitting.”
True innovation never ends, however, and the success so far for the team in terms of Digital Experience is just the beginning, according to Jo, who added: “In terms of future developments, we have taken the first steps in the digital world and we will look to continue to innovate in that space.
“Potentially, chat bots could be something that will appear at some point down the line. We will continue down the robotics route, and utilise technology that will satisfy customers, and help us to secure new business.”
For more details on speakers attending the Future is CX Conference, click here.
Awards International is also hosting a second upcoming conference, Winning with Complaint Handling, which will bring together previous winners of the UK Complaint Handling Awards to share best practice.