How to make the right choice for your operation and your customer

This article was originally published in the Spring 2022 issue of Institute of Water Magazine, authored by Hayley Monks, Managing Director of Utilities for Gobeyond Partners, part of the Webhelp Group.

UK utility companies are under increased scrutiny as costs begin to rise. Consumers are feeling the pressure as combined water and sewerage bills for 2022/23 will rise by £7 to an annual average of £419 while water-only bills will be an average of £4 more from April. Whilst the average increase of 1.7% on combined water and sewerage bills is below inflation prices vary across England and Wales, with some customers seeing a hike of up to 10% or a fall of 6%.  

Increasing costs, technological advances, pressures on operations, staffing and recruitment all place pressure on businesses to become as agile as possible and operate effectively in a changing and often unpredictable environment.    

This uncertainty is leading businesses to consider the benefits of a strategic service partner and to understand how the right partner can help them navigate this challenging environment, working together to deliver what’s important – reducing operating costs whilst creating positive, valuable customer experiences.  

Here are some questions to think about when engaging a strategic service partner to support service improvement and cost reduction. 

How will you supercharge your digital transformation journey?

The pandemic has exacerbated the need for digital transformation across the sector and a significant number of businesses look to an outsourcer to support their transformation journey.  

From deploying the right technology, to assessing existing digital journeys and creating the right balance between digital and human solutions. A strategic service partner offers centres of excellence that can support businesses to develop and deliver large scale, customer-led digital transformation programmes.  

Engaging an expert partner whose core activity is transformation, digital customer experience, self-service and multi-channel strategy can be the answer.  Giving you access to teams of customer journey and analytics experts, who can bring an understanding of drivers for customer demand, remove barriers to digital adoption, create revenue opportunities and provide best practice CX strategies.  

But you want to maintain control. Business leaders often feel like outsourcing means losing this. The right outsourcing relationship should feel like a true partnership and an extension of your business – giving you confidence that you have delegated the activity to experts in their field who can deliver. 

Can you create confidence from shared commercial objectives? 

Creating commercial certainty in an uncertain world has never been more important.  A modern, innovative and strategic service partner will work closely with its clients to develop shared commercial objectives, ensuring both businesses succeed together.  

This approach also supports the development of long-term, outcome focused, strategic partnerships where costs are better managed, customer experience is enhanced and the traditional cost-to-serve, transactional model is consigned to history.  

Is your current operating model inflexible and in need of modernisation?

It’s our view that when businesses are considering a strategic service partner they can often need a solution that is unique to their situation.  For some, this can be a need for a scalable, virtual and home-based solutions, while others may require a full on-site solution across multiple geographies.  

Transitioning to a completely elastic operation as standard can take time and can be a costly learning curve. One thing that many companies have learnt as a result of COVID-19 the need to be agile and support people to work from wherever and however they want to work.  But as customer demand grows, a strategic service partner can deliver an always-on, cost effective solution, customisable across multiple geographies and languages, and with access to specialist skills as required – combining to offer a solution capable of meeting their short and long-term customer operation demands. 

Do you have a solution to short term, unpredictable or seasonal demand?

A strategic service partner offer valuable, long-term partnerships but there can be instances when businesses have a short-term, immediate demand challenge.  Offering flexible demand solutions, where they rapidly deploy teams to meet short term spikes in customer activity offers a cost effective solution to customer demand-related challenges whilst ensuring a positive customer experience throughout.  

Do you have limited access to highly specialised services and skillsets that can  provide the insight, and enable the transformation, you need?

The ability to work anywhere has grown in the last 18 months some geographies still struggle to recruit and retain talent.  An organisation may want to resource all their services themselves, but the pipeline is either not there or costly to maintain. 

The growth of the digital customer continues and with it comes differing customer journey challenges.  A strategic service partners offers more specialist solutions such as:   

Data and analytics expertise to support businesses to bring true understanding of their customers and their needs.  Strategic service partners embrace the wealth of data available from front-line, real-time customer interactions, creating actionable insights to deliver transformative, personalised and innovative customer experiences. An in-house option can work, however it requires long term commitment and knowledge development, which may not suit those who need to deliver change fast. 

Access to specialist digital content services to moderate and manage content on digital platforms.  Content moderation can be a drain on resources in an environment where users expect content to be published in near real-time – a strategic service partner can offer a combination of highly experienced content moderation experts and automation tools to support the best user experience.   

A popular area for outsourcing is secure payment services, offering safe and simple solutions for customers and organisations. Managing customer and financial data should be done with great consideration.  Your chosen strategic partner will become a data processer and responsible for looking after your data. Due diligence on data governance and management is an essential – this can be time consuming. 

Business process outsourcing can be an incredibly positive step for businesses of all sizes, from fast growing companies scaling up their operations to established businesses looking to start, or take the next step on, their digital transformation journey. Finding a partner that fits your brand and values is just as important as any cost saving opportunity. 

At Webhelp, we are primed to support you with any plans you may have for strategic growth and customer solutions.

If it sounds like we could provide a solution for you, don’t hesitate to get in touch

Hayley Monks

Managing Director, Utilities

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