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23 August 2022

Reconnecting Thames Water with its customers

How do you improve customer satisfaction for one of the UK’s largest water companies?

Thames Water had a low ranking in the industry league tables for customer service and wanted to deliver a better service for its customers. Thames Water worked with a third-party provider, Lanes for Drains, to respond to customer service calls related to the 100,000km of wastewater network. Thames Water wanted its staff to be able to ask the right questions, record the right information and find the right response for each customer. They wanted a better overview of jobs that were in progress and to reduce the times customers needed to contact Thames Water and the number of visits required to resolve the customers' issues. So, Thames Water called on Baringa’s water industry experts to help. 

Finding the small changes that make a big difference
We started by identifying over 20 tactical fixes - small changes they could make quickly, with an immediate impact on customer satisfaction. We brainstormed solutions, even testing different types of high-pressure jetting heads – the ones they use to clear blockages – to see which ones were the most effective. We looked at how work was raised and prioritised and played matchmaker – looking at the customer needs and the people available to do work and optimised putting the two together. 

But the real game-changer was “One Desk”. We brought together Thames Water and their third-party supplier under one roof. We took each role in the process – taking the call, planning the work, scheduling it and managing it in the field – sat them around one desk and gave them responsibility for a geographic area. Each desk had two goals: make the process better and fix the issue in the first visit. 

One giant leap up the league table
As a result of the new ways of working, customer service improved. By the end of the project, Thames Water had moved from near bottom to middle of the industry table, achieving their highest ever customer satisfaction rating for wastewater. They greatly reduced the time taken to resolve a customer issue, the volume of floods reduced and the number of repeat calls and complaints also came down significantly. The performance turnaround was recognised when they won a water industry achievement award as a result. 

“Without this team, we would never have achieved the improvements to date. They're the team that ensure changes stick. I’m blessed to have Baringa onboard.” – Matt Rimmer, Head of Wastewater Networks

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