Severn Trent and United Utilities have created Water Plus, a new business with a refreshing approach to commercial water retailing; combining the very best of both companies in a distinctly different business.
In April 2017, the English non-domestic water market opened to retail competition. Businesses in Scotland and high volume users in England were already able to buy their water from several licensed providers, but now an open market in England has given every business the freedom and flexibility to choose a water supplier that best suits their own needs.
This legislative change presented an opportunity for commercial water suppliers to compete for a share in a market place reportedly worth £3bn (£960million from the public-sector retail market). This put the onus on suppliers to make prices more competitive for consumers and to contest to offer the highest levels of customer service.
Following consideration of the implications, United Utilities (UU) decided to join forces with Severn Trent to enter the deregulated market as Water Plus.
Water Plus was effectively a new business, a ‘start-up’, with new offices in Stoke-on-Trent. It was starting from scratch, with no IT infrastructure whatsoever. Data servers, billing systems, contact centres, word processing programs, email, internal communications systems, and a website were all required for Water Plus to become an operational business.
For the new Water Plus business to hit the ground running, it also needed a customer relationship management (CRM) solution that would support its telesales functions, its corporate sales teams, and its business development executives. The solution was needed to accelerate revenues in the new market and add value for existing and new customers.
Crimson pitched an idea for several solutions which together would create a dynamic, agile, Microsoft Cloud based IT infrastructure. This idea included an integration with marketing and relationship management solution.
Crimson has been awarded Microsoft Gold Partner status for its application development and customer relationship management solutions. After discussions with the Water Plus team, IT solutions consultants from Crimson’s Cloud Services team created a detailed proposal for developing an IT infrastructure using Microsoft Technology.
A cloud-based billing system was proposed using Microsoft AX, Office 365 and Microsoft Exchange were suggested for desktop processing tools and email, and Crimson suggested creating a document library using Microsoft SharePoint. Plans for an integrated website and Skype for Business were also outlined.
Dynamics 365 was recommended for the marketing / sales solution. It was chosen not just because of its industry-leading CRM lead-nurturing functionality, but also because of its ability to integrate with the company’s website, SharePoint library, and billing applications.
The Crimson team also offered to provide IT as a service (ITaaS) to Water Plus, this meant that our IT solutions consultants would manage any other third party providers to deliver Water Plus’s IT helpdesk, infrastructure support, desktop support, and database administration (DBA). Crimson’s proposal also offered to oversee the installation of Water Plus’s telephony and VPN internet network.
Crimson’s proposals were accepted and meetings were held with users and key stakeholders to refine requirements. The solutions were developed and training workshops were conducted with Water Plus user groups by Crimson’s cloud services team.
The Microsoft Dynamics 365 solution was integrated with marketing automation tool ClickDimensions, credit-scoring business intelligence software Bureau Van Dijk, and PCA Predict for bank validation. These programs give Water Plus’s sales and marketing teams intelligent data and enable new customers to switch to Water Plus quickly and easily.
Crimson oversaw the complete installation of Water Plus IT infrastructure, helping to launch this ‘£900million start-up’, in the space of just nine months. This was only made possible because of the agile approach Crimson takes to projects and the flexibility and scale of Microsoft’s Cloud technologies.
Water Plus’s Microsoft Dynamics 365 CRM solution is now up and running and the company is competing in the £3bn commercial water services market, which is made up of 2.5million UK businesses.
Its sales teams have used Crimson’s solution to secure the likes of Great Manchester Police, Hampden Park (Scotland’s National Stadium), The University of Salford, Manchester City Council, and manufacturer Magnesium Elektron as customers. Each of these businesses is saving tens of thousands of pounds thanks to Water Plus.
Since starting out, Water Plus has sent more than one million bills, collected nearly £1bn in cash, migrated more than 300,000 customers, and launched a new website with self-serve functionality. None of this could have happened without the solutions that Crimson created.
With Crimson’s support, Water Plus aims to be rated the number one commercial water services provider for customer satisfaction by 2020.
Crimson is now in the process of integrating electronic signature solution DocuSign into Water Plus’s buying process. This tool provides a digital self-service experience for customers and supports Water Plus’s acquisition and retention strategy.