NWG Business (Northumbrian Water Group) – Creating a sector-leading digital customer experience

The Client

NWG Business, part of the Northumbrian Water Group, provides retail water and wastewater services to the non-household market in the North East, and in the South East of England. In 2017, following the deregulation of the water market, NWG Business entered into a joint venture with Anglian Water Business forming ‘Wave’ – to provide retail water and wastewater services to non-household customers in England and Scotland.

Wave’s ambition is to become a major national supplier of utilities to businesses by retaining existing customers and attracting new ones to join them for their gas, electricity, water and wastewater supplies.

The Brief

Since April 2017, more than 1.2 million businesses, charities and public sector bodies have been able to choose their water supplier rather than rely on a supplier with a regional monopoly.

To support Wave’s ambitions to become a leader in this new market, the company required a sector leading web platform to support their overall goal of providing competitive pricing with outstanding customer experience.

The web platform needed to address Small & Medium Enterprises (SME) and Industrial & Commercial (I&C) customers in order to provide a tailored digital experience and also to deliver cost-effective customer acquisition and management, by automating business processes and enabling customers to self-serve.

The Solution

Working to a hard deadline of the water market deregulation, we took an agile approach to delivering a MVP (minimum viable product) for the client. The MVP would form the foundation of the digital platform that would then be enhanced with additional features in later phases.

Drupal 8, the open-source CMS, was selected providing a modern development framework with reduced costs through open-source licensing – leaving more budget available for development of features, rather than covering expensive software licenses.

To support the client in their goals, we provided planning, UX and development services across the following areas:

Discovery and requirements gathering

With high-level feature requests provided by the client team, a series of discovery workshops helped us further understand the businesses requirements and the needs of their customers. Involving multiple client stakeholders, and other design and technology partners, the discovery workshops uncovered insights that would form the basis of the product roadmap and prioritisation of its features.

Customer journey planning, business process, and system integration

Following the workshops, digital customer journeys were planned in detail, mapping business processes, system integration touchpoints and messaging workflows.

Through understanding the vision for the customer experience, we were then able to collaboratively plan the user experience and the technical solution that would deliver it.

Design & UX

Working with the client’s design partner, we collaborated as one team to quickly bring together creative direction, UX wireframes and functionality. With Access advising on Drupal 8 capabilities, we planned the user experience while leveraging many ‘out of the box’ Drupal features to ensure features were feasible and cost-effective within the timeframe.

Open Source development

Partnering with Acquia from the start, we used the Acquia Cloud Platform and its development tools to quickly get up and running. Acquia provided support in setting up and optimising hosting infrastructure, VPNs with third-party application providers, pre-launch performance testing and Drupal 8 code reviews.

Digital web platform features

  • Content Management System
  • Get A Quote – compare and switch tools
  • Customer onboarding
  • My Account (customer portal)
  • Bills, transactions & usage management
  • Gentrack Velocity (customer account & billing) system integration
  • Customer Experience Platform integration, including chat applications and automated contact method scheduling
  • Online payments and Realex payment gateway integration

The Results

  • A new digital platform launched in time to meet the opening of the business water market.
  • Positive feedback from customers, as well as industry peers and key partners.  
  • Successful migration of customers to ‘My Account’ and self-serve features.

The Testimonial

"Access came with us on the journey from the start, wanting to start out by understanding the new market, and what we were trying to achieve. They were flexible in their approach to accommodate our needs as a business.

The team were friendly and approachable and never shy to come forward with thoughts and recommendations which could help us turn our web platform into one which engaged our partners and customers alike." 

Lissa Balmer, SME Customer Director


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