Engaging mobile self service for utilities customers.

Northumbrian Water Customer App

Northumbrian Water provide water to over 4.2 million people in the UK, serving vast communities in North East and South East England. 

With a proud focus on innovation, they are trailblazers in their sector, delivering ambitious digital services to enhance their award-winning customer service.  

Having already helped the team successfully deliver their water services app, we were delighted to win the opportunity to work with them again on their new customer app- transforming their customer experience around billing, making it easier for customers to pay bills securely and get key bill information.

Since the launch, we have continued to deliver a programme of continuous improvement, developing new features for the app to support Northumbrian Water's commitment to delivering what matters for their customers, communities and environment.

The Challenge.

 

Effortless onboarding and security around account number recovery were essential to the success of the new application and the team at Northumbrian Water were also focused on providing:

  • Clear billing and payment information
  • Flexibility around payment methods
  • Device-specific capability to tailor the user experience
  • Seamless interaction with internal customer systems

The Approach.

 

Working closely with our partners at Northumbrian Water, we held a series of Business Analysis workshops to analyse current customer journeys. Together with stakeholders, we helped to define customer needs and high-level architecture requirements.

With our research in hand, we meticulously mapped out the initial user journey, producing a suite of on-brand, high-fidelity visual prototypes. Working in sprints, the Shout team designed and engineered clear, simple journeys, both for those customers who could be fast-tracked to billing information and for those who needed to move through a more sophisticated authentication process.

The first iteration of the app meant once authenticated, customers could travel through an intuitive payment gateway, which uses Northumbrian Water’s payment partner GlobalPay and directs them through tailored payment journeys, depending on their account type and status.

“The entire delivery team were brilliant at not only what they did technically and from a UI/UX design perspective, but they were engaging, responsive and supported us through any curveballs. It has always felt as though we were one team, working together to deliver the app”

Stephanie Blemmings
Project Manager

The Outcome.

 

The initial version of the app was rolled out to the Apple and Google Play stores, and had immediate positive feedback from customers. 

Since the launch, we have worked with Northumbrian Water on a programme of continuous improvement, developing new features for the app to support their commitment to delivering what matters for their customers, communities and environment. 

Some of the highlights are outlined below.

Improved customer experience through personalised and integrated service

Self service billing

Integration with the internal customer database at NWL means that customers can view their bills, download a copy to their device and access their account balance all within the app. Whether customers are metered or not, they get an aligned customer experience and fast, easy to understand information, and can set up text message reminders when their bill is due.

Personalised in-app payments

The app reacts to the customer based on their payment type, and status, and will change colour if a payment is due (or overdue) on the account. Customers not on direct debit can access a guided workflow to let them choose a payment amount and pay their bill directly in the app – including an option to use ApplePay or GooglePay

Self service payment plans

Customers can even set up a payment plan directly in the app – without the need to call NWL. This is made possible via an integration with the NWL payment service that calculates the recommended payment value.

DropSwap: Activating community engagement through gamification

Customers earn drops by completing activities in the app, for example submitting a meter reading, making a payment or making a pledge about responsible water use, and can then donate these drops to a charity from the NWL shortlist.

This is gamified by a ‘spin the wheel’ approach on completion of an activity – with the opportunity to win drops of different values.

At the end of each month, the winning charity is crowned and NWL make a donation in line with the drops donated by their customers.

The scheme has created stronger  engagement between community and customer, encouraged positive behavioural change in customers and generated positive brand association with local community initiatives. Additionally, NWL have been able to use drops as rewards for customers filling out surveys – giving them valuable customer insight.

Drop Swap Impact

“We try to invest our money back into our operating regions wherever possible. The quality and value that Shout deliver makes that a very easy decision. We have worked with them over a period of several years now, developing apps for our customers and employees. They have been great to work with.”

Nigel Watson - Chief Innovation Officer

Enriched experience for customers with a water meter

Modern smart meters are at the heart of the drive to create smart networks, as the water industry responds to the environmental need to consume less water, and to educate customers about responsible consumption. 

For customers on the latest smart water meters, integration with the meter data partner means they can see their own granular, real-time water usage, and compare it with averages for similar households.

Customers can see their water efficiency, compare their efforts in real-life scenarios, and access advice on how to improve their efficiency and consumption. Variable billing also acts as a motivator to use water in a responsible way. 

As Smart meters are rolled out, NWL can access real time data about consumption, which aids with planning and leak detection.

Customers on older style water meters can also submit meter readings directly in the app. 

Efficient Workflows for NWL Teams

Creating more opportunities for NWL customers to self-serve when they want to, means that the contact centre team is freed up to deal with customers who prefer to talk to a human – whether that’s because they prefer to engage this way, or have complex needs that can’t be served by the app. Either way, it means the NWL team is adding value – and customers who prefer to self serve can do so.

The app is also served by a bespoke, web based content management tool. It’s a common frustration in app development and can be perceived as a barrier to service digitisation – typically updating content in an app may need deployments to the app store or developers to make small content changes. The web based CMS allows the NWL admin team to change the areas of content in the app with is likely to change regularly – for example charity, survey and pledge content for DropSwap, and information about leaks, consumption and water savings tips.

Delivering Success

Available via Apple and Google Play stores, to all 4.2 million of Northumbrian Water's valued customers, in the first 15 months of life the app delivered... 

22,683

Meter reads submitted

260,365

Payments made

27,319

New registrations

4.6

Rated 4.6 on the Apple App Store, with 1.8k ratings

Talk to us about how Shout's experts can help you engineer change.

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