United Utilities makes customer service visual

Customer service has become more visual at United Utilities following the introduction of a new video calling technology.

The water company for the North West has adopted SightCall, a visual assistance programme platform which is used the same way as a video call to enable its agents and customers to look at issues together.

Every year United Utilities receives around 37,000 calls relating to water leaks alone. Until now, agents have had to rely solely on a description to determine what the problem is and has often needed to send a team to the customer’s location to investigate fully.

SightCall image.jpgWith SightCall the customer service representative can see what the customer sees which means issues are identified correctly and the right team is despatched to deal with it.

It also means that unnecessary call-outs are prevented – early trials show that by correctly identifying the issue, call-outs were reduced by 50%, and in a quarter of cases, issues were handled differently than they would have been based on the description alone.

As well as saving time and resource for United Utilities, SightCall does the same for its customers by making sure the correct teams are sent out to resolve issues – and letting them know quickly if they need to arrange their own plumber.

The service is being used by customer service agents based in both Warrington and Whitehaven and is offered to customers who contact United Utilities by phone or webchat.

Kate Zabatis, Water & Wastewater Customer Services Manager at United Utilities explained: “We know that when people have a problem with their water or wastewater they need our support as quickly as possible.

“SightCall is a great tool in helping us to pinpoint what the problem is getting it resolved as quickly as possible by giving customers the right advice first time, and if necessary sending out the correct team to deal with it.

“It is very straightforward to use, once the customer has granted permission, they share a live video view of the problem which means our experts can identify issues such as water leaks and sewer flooding much more quickly as it helps us identify the location and potentially what the cause is.”

In a quarter of the video-calls made with SightCall, the agent raised a different type of issue after they were able to view it. 

Kate added: “By viewing the problem rather than relying on a description, we are able to make sure we get the right team out first time. This speeds up the service for the customer and makes sure we aren’t wasting time and resources by having to send two teams out to fix one job.”

Customers have welcomed the service with feedback such as:  “We tried the new camera link, it was wonderful and a helpful tool to use.”

Head of Innovation at United Utilities Kieran Brocklebank commented: “We are constantly seeking new technologies which can help improve our services – whether that is using artificial intelligence to detect water leaks, drones to collect water samples or in this case, minimising disruption to customers.”