United Utilities is one of the UK’s largest utility companies. They have come from a monopolistic background and whilst this is due to change - and has for certain aspects of their market - they still had a legacy of being internally focused.
- All utility providers in the UK have faced enormous change. This is not just as a result of greater customer demand and expectations, driven by an explosive growth in the service on demand culture, it is also because of regulatory framework changes. These changes have resulted in a more focused approach on operational performance, customer satisfaction metrics and cost to serve which result in penalties for those that perform below sector average.
- One of the biggest barriers was the lack of flexibility due to legacy working patterns, employment contracts, workforce planning, opening hours and channel usage (less than 5% done through digital channels at the time).
- We looked at the business as a whole and included key colleague groups as part of the team to understand the problem and look at the solution. This created shared ownership of both the problem and the solution(s) which included the union representatives.
- A full resource, workflow and contractual review was undertaken looking at historical patterns and competitor/marketplace best practice information across all major high volume sectors.
- Priority & desired outcomes were developed as a result of looking at both Colleague & Customer un-met needs. It was also quickly apparent that many Colleagues wanted more flexibility and found the old contracts did not suit their more flexible lifestyles.
- A full technology, process and skills/capability review was designed to establish a more agile and holistic worker planning approach.
- A new demand planning and shift pattern rostering system was developed in line with the identified Customer & Colleague needs. This was a voluntary option to avoid contractual conflicts. Its goal was to reduce/remove high cost overtime whilst driving an improvement in operational service and customer satisfaction metrics.
- The new system was universally well received and uptake exceeded that required (92% uptake to new patterns) to enable the required flexibility so that service could operate in both an efficient & effective way. The first significant shift pattern change ever delivered.
“This is a great example of bringing the colleagues with you to break a deadlock that had existed for years. Our years of building and running complex service operations came to the fore as we know how to engage directors, managers & colleagues to create a common purpose and outcomes that work for all" Nicola Collister, Founder, Custerian