Improving the process for handling customer complaints for a water utilities company

The Challenge

One of the UK’s leading utility companies needed help to achieve service level agreements (SLAs) as set down by the Regulator for customer complaints to its sewerage department.

Just 38% of complaints were being resolved first time as teams within the department worked in silos with little ownership of processes or focus on the customer. We were tasked with working with the department to deliver rapid improvements in productivity and customer satisfaction with the goal of ensuring that SLAs would regularly be met.

How we helped

Our own experience has shown that a high level of employee engagement is the only way to sustain a new process.

  • Our practitioners began by engaging with the client’s project team to fully understand the current state of their processes. Using Lean tools and techniques we worked with them to identify opportunities for improvement and together we created a new way of working.
  • Tasks were standardised and planning made predictable, eliminating the need for time-consuming handovers.
  • This new approach dramatically reduced the number of call backs by establishing a dedicated team trained and empowered to provide immediate solutions.
  • It further allowed both staff and management to have real-time visibility of the department’s performance, with the ability to raise issues and resolve them before they could impact on customer service and SLAs.

By the end of the programme, significant improvements had been realised:

  • Now 80% of calls are resolved first time, leading to a much improved and consistent customer experience
  • Average lead-time on fault repair down from 8 days to 2.25 days
  • A 22% improvement in productivity, enabling an annual saving in staff costs of £1.25M

A further significant benefit was the development in staff capability. Employees are now fully engaged and eager to continue to improve, with confidence in the knowledge and skills transferred.

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improving customer complaints