Our strategy

Our purpose is to serve our communities and build a lasting water legacy. It is our vision by 2020 to be the most trusted water company: delivering an outstanding customer experience, the best value service and environmental leadership. How we plan to achieve this strategy is set out below.

Embed customers at the heart of all we do

What do we mean by this

We’ll improve the way in which customers engage with us through improved insight and understanding of what’s important to them.

Our progress in 2015/16

  • Expanded digital channels and apps – launched webchat and Facebook, launched Track My Job and In My Street apps
  • Improved operational performance
  • Resolved longstanding legacy issues and improved case management
  • Simplified customer experience by reducing contact numbers and simplifying our automated telephony

Areas of focus for 2016/17

  • Refresh online experience for customers
  • Expand personalised service and vulnerable customer offering
  • Improve customer contact centre effectiveness through cross-skilling our agents
  • Expand proactive customer communications

Embed customers at the heart of all we do

Enhancing customer experience through digital channels has been a key priority for us this year and we’ve added real value for our customers, particularly through our new webchat facility. As an example, we recently assisted a customer whose husband had passed away and needed a change of name processed on their account. The webchat service made this easy to do and avoided her having to talk about the loss of her husband on the telephone. The changes were made in minutes and the ease of service shows how we’re expanding our channels to continuously put customers at the heart of all we do.

We are excited to help as many customers as we can in ways they find the most convenient for them. Further information on customer engagement can be found in our Annual Report.

Drive operational excellence and continuous innovation

What do we mean by this?

We’ll build a smart water and waste water network and relentlessly look at ways to improve operational performance and customer service levels.

Our progress in 2015/16

  • We have made positive steps in our energy efficiency, investing in our first Thermal Hydrolysis Plant during the year
  • We have embedded communities of practice to bring together experts from across the Company and empower them to drive improvement
  • We have aligned performance reporting to focus on what our customers value (ODIs)

Areas of focus for 2016/17

  • We will continue to work on our energy profile, both usage and generation
  • We will continue to focus on improving information to drive better customer outcomes

Drive operational excellence and continuous innovation

We have begun an exciting programme of investment in renewable energy technology, aiming to generate 50% of the electricity we use from renewable energy by 2020. A component of this plan is building solar photovoltaic arrays on unused land at our water and waste water treatment works.

One of the largest of these is at Barnhurst Treatment Works in Wolverhampton, where a 2.8MW array of 11,000 solar panels has been built to provide electricity for the equipment we use. This covers an area equivalent to four football pitches, generating enough electricity to power the equivalent of around 800 homes! Further information on our renewables initiatives can be found in our Annual Report.

Investing responsibly for sustainable growth

What do we mean by this

We’ll develop an effective strategy which optimises our regulated asset base, whilst creating new growth opportunities for the future.

Our progress in 2015/16

  • We have started our Proactive Asset Management programme focused on investing at the right time and cost to maintain and enhance the long term health of our assets
  • We continue to investigate new technology and process innovation which brings improved customer delivery at reduced cost

Areas of focus for 2016/17

  • Careful management of our investment programme to deliver high value projects on cost and on time
  • Selected investments in new technology to enhance customer delivery or reduce costs

Investing responsibly for sustainable growth

The Water Framework Directive is driving the need for phosphorus removal from sewage to very low levels. As current UK technologies are unlikely to be capable of achieving this, we have invested in a ground breaking trial at our Packington Sewage Treatment Works to investigate potential alternatives, including low energy, no chemical and phosphorus recovery technologies.

Around £120 million investment in AMP6 to remove phosphorus from over 100 sewage treatment works will help ensure we invest in technologies capable of delivering effective solutions, whilst saving costs.

Change the market for the better

What do we mean by this

We’ll embrace market opening in England and explore opportunities for growth in new water markets worldwide.

Our progress in 2015/16

  • We have laid the foundations for the retail market opening in our structures, creating a market facing unit and commercial pricing and delivery model
  • We have begun developing the right operating model to prepare for potential sludge market opening

Areas of focus for 2016/17

  • Readiness for shadow operation of the retail market, followed by successful market opening in full
  • Continued work on sludge market opening structures and models

Change the market for the better

In March 2016, we announced our joint venture, Water Plus, with United Utilities which combines our non-household retail businesses, centrally located in Stoke-on-Trent. With the non-household retail market in England opening for competition in 2017, this joint venture will combine the complementary skills of both companies, including sales, customer service, business strategy and credit management, to deliver an attractive proposition for large and small business customers across England and Scotland. Bringing our businesses together creates synergies to provide an efficient and cost-effective operation focused on improved customer service and growth.

Creating an awesome place to work

What do we mean by this

We’ll create a culture of empowerment and accountability with a focus on skills, talent and career development.

Our progress in 2015/16

  • 150 of our Team Managers completed our new Awesome Leaders Programme designed to help them engage and empower their teams to drive high performance
  • We have redesigned our annual opinion survey – QUEST – to provide better data to managers about engagement levels in their teams to focus their action planning

Areas of focus for 2016/17

  • A further 300 Team Managers will have completed the Awesome Leaders Programme by the end of July 2016
  • We will double our intake of graduates and apprentices in 2016 to build our talent pipelines for the future

Creating an awesome place to work

This year we launched our first ever Wellbeing Programme, proactively investing in the health and wellbeing of our colleagues resulting in benefits such as higher levels of staff engagement, improved productivity and reduced absence to name a few. Employee support for the programme has been very high and throughout the year we have undertaken a number of initiatives, including healthy heart days, skin check clinics, healthy eating promotion, skipping challenges and wellbeing kiosks.

Our biggest success so far has been our Pedometer Challenge which was held in December 2015 and saw 20% of the business taking part. For more information about our Wellbeing Programme please download our Annual Report.