Case Study

SES Water



SES Water provides water to the residents of the London boroughs of Sutton, Croydon and Merton and parts of Surrey, West Sussex and West Kent. Drinking water is supplied to over 685,000 customers, reaching 285,000 properties.

The challenge

SES Water were looking to work with an external partner to deliver overflow and out of hours contact centre services.

They were seeking a supplier who could help them:

  • Improve the customer experience
  • Enhance the response provided to customers
  • Drive efficiencies by finding ways to maximise the productivity of call handling teams
  • Increase sign-ups for e-billing
  • Respond quickly to industry and regulatory changes
  • Innovate and enhance the service experience throughout the contract term

The approach

After a comprehensive tender process, WeAnswer was awarded the contract in May 2015. We assembled a project team to manage implementation of the key requirements, and worked closely with SES Water’s internal team.

Key team members included:

SES Water

  • Customer Service Manager
  • IT Manager
  • Telecoms Manager
  • Project Manager
  • Trainer


  • Business Development Manager
  • Contact Centre Manager
  • Client Service Executive
  • IT Manager
  • Training Manager
  • Project Manager

The project team worked together with face-to-face meetings and weekly conference calls between May and August, when the service went live. The scope of the contract was broken down into workstreams in order to deliver a phased implementation.

These workstreams were based upon SES Water’s existing IVR options (interactive voice system):

  • Stage 1 – payments
  • Stage 2 – house moves
  • Stage 3 – out of hours operations
  • Stage 4 – meter readings

Training was delivered at WeAnswer with SES Water’s trainer delivering seven-day classroom-based sessions to two groups of WeAnswer agents. Representatives of SES Water were also on-site at WeAnswer to ‘floor walk’ when the two groups went live. Further training sessions took place to increase the number of trained agents at WeAnswer as each stage was reached.

The customer experience

Customers selecting the IVR option to make a payment are now diverted to WeAnswer where the advisors:

  • take payments
  • settle outstanding balances
  • set up direct debits
  • register customers for e-billing

The WeAnswer team also receive calls from SES Water’s automated payment line. If customer transactions fail, the call is diverted directly into the team to take payment over the phone.

For house moves, the agents:

  • record customer address changes
  • set up new payment plans
  • arrange final bills and close accounts

WeAnswer agents work closely with customer services representatives at SES Water headquarters in Redhill, allowing them to transfer callers should an enquiry fall outside the scope of WeAnswer’s brief.

Management reporting

The WeAnswer client service team provide daily reporting to SES Water, showing performance against key metrics. Business reviews are scheduled regularly, allowing SES Water and WeAnswer to review performance, and plan ahead for anticipated peaks in activity levels.

The results

Reduction in call volumes

In the first month after go-live, improvements in first-call resolution levels contributed to a 30% reduction in overall SES Water call volumes (compared with the same period in the previous year).

118% increase in e-billing sign-ups

In response to SES Water’s desire to increase the number of customers signing up to e-billing, customer service teams at WeAnswer and SES Water’s Head Office are targeted to raise the issue as part of every customer conversation. They then compete against each other to be top of the ‘leader board’. As a result of this, SES Water saw a month-on-month 118% increase in sign-ups towards the end of 2015.

Next steps

Both parties are keen to extend the scope of the partnership in the coming months and maintain the improved level of service, providing real choice to customers about how they engage with their water provider.

The self-serve environment will continue to increase with the aim of having 25% of customers using the e-billing platform.

Webchat will also feature in the new channels of communication.

The WeAnswer team look forward to playing an integral part in helping SES Water achieve their ambition of Service Excellence set out in their Vision statement.

We chose WeAnswer because of their ‘can do’ attitude and because, with the appropriate training, they were prepared to answer our customers enquiries rather than simply provide a messaging service. Our customers are offered a seamless service and are unaware they're talking to an outsourced overflow facility. From our Contact Centre team’s point of view, it’s reassuring to know we have access to additional resources when our call volumes are high.

All of the staff have a friendly, positive approach. This has been apparent during the numerous visits we’ve made to WeAnswer head office, on the phone, in the classroom and during our fortnightly conference calls. Bringing WeAnswer on board has been a real success for SES Water and we look forward to developing our relationship with them further.

Customer Services Manager

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