The water sector may be a monopoly, but customers still demand value for money and excellent experiences. We worked with Bristol Water to create a 5 year digital customer strategy, improving culture, capabilities and ways of working.
More than just water
Bristol Water has been supplying the people of South West England with clean, safe, drinking water since 1846, making it one of the oldest water companies in the United Kingdom.
Serving over 1.2 million customers and 34,000 businesses, Bristol Water needed to respond to the diverse and changing requirements of its customer base by building a strong, strategic roadmap for its customer experiences, with improved digital sophistication and maturity at its core.
Damfino worked in collaboration with Bristol Water over an 18 month period to develop a five-year customer delivery roadmap, with investment initially focussed on the transformation of their customer-facing digital channels and internal customer experience management capabilities.
Investment in the water sector is undertaken over a 5-year time horizon, known as Asset Management Periods (or AMPs). Since the current AMP commenced, in 2015, customer expectations of water supply companies have changed massively.
Whereas other sectors, notably Financial Services, Retail and increasingly Energy and Gas, have been on the forefront of customer experience innovation and digital transformation, the water sector has often lagged behind, continuing to be reliant on more traditional forms of customer communication and sticking rigidly to delivery processes borne from operational needs, rather than customer benefit.
Bristol Water wanted to change this, by developing a business plan and strategy focussed on achieving excellent water experiences for their customers.
Digital would play a pivotal role in this strategy, enabling more personal, more frequent communication with customers, an ability to capitalise on data and analytics and a greater focus on optimising online customer journeys and internal operating processes made more efficient.
By working alongside Bristol Water’s customers and employees, Damfino established a 5-year roadmap for the transformation of Bristol Water’s digital customer experiences, centred around the three overarching themes of culture, capabilities and ways of working.
In this way, the customer roadmap catered not only for Capex investment in IT and technology, but was also considerate of the human factors required to achieve a successful, enduring transformation, such as employee training, collaboration and better knowledge sharing.
Each of the initiatives that formed part of the strategy was assessed to understand its contribution to Bristol Water’s customer delivery targets and Performance Commitments, and then overlaid with a delivery feasibility assessment.
The most valuable initiatives and interventions formed the basis of a detailed investment case coupled with a delivery plan developed to extract maximum value for the customer and the business in the shortest amount of time, while simultaneously building the foundations for capability required later in the AMP.
With a mandate to deliver significant digital change, we started with the foundations. Damfino engaged Bristol Water’s customer panel to better understand the full range of customer needs. To assist we underwent an intensive period of primary research, involving customer focus groups, research studies and 1:1 customer interviews.
We refreshed Bristol Water’s digital presence, designing more coherent customer journeys, and consolidating many of the features and capabilities that had been historically developed, but were not accessible or utilised by customers.
By implementing Google Analytics, Optimiser, Tag Manager and HotJar, we created a platform for experience management and future optimisation.
Another key aspect of the transformation was embedding an Agile mindset, a new approach for Bristol Water. Working in cross functional Scrum teams, we were able to establish a test-and-learn process, ensuring we could rapidly achieve results, building the culture and capabilities necessary to ensure the longevity of the new customer experience.
Having built the foundational capabilities of Bristol Water’s digital customer experience platform, our transformation heralds the start of the next stage of Bristol Water’s exciting journey.