By Lila Thompson  Chief Executive, British Water

In the ever-evolving landscape of customer expectations, the water sector stands at a critical juncture, and collaboration illuminates the way to enhanced customer satisfaction and a strengthened water industry, writes Lila Thomspon, chief executive, British Water.

The need for seamless, efficient, and customer-centric service delivery has never been more pronounced for the UK water sector, as we navigate the challenges of ageing infrastructure, resource scarcity, and climate change.

As a UK leading membership organisation for the water sector, at British Water, we firmly believe collaboration is the cornerstone of delivering an exceptional level of service for water companies’ business and domestic customers. Fostering partnerships across the sector harnesses collective expertise, enables best practice, and pools resources to address customer needs and concerns effectively.

The benefits of collaboration extend far beyond mere problem-solving. Working together creates a culture of innovation, creativity, and continuous improvement. Collaboration breaks down silos, eliminates redundancies, and streamlines processes, leading to a more efficient and cost-effective approach to customer service delivery.

Statistics underscore the transformative impact of collaboration. Research by software company SuperOffice found companies prioritising collaboration in customer service see a 10% improvement in customer satisfaction. Meanwhile, according to a report by Deloitte, collaborative decision-making can lead to a 50% increase in innovation.

Collaboration is not just a buzzword; it is a necessity for the water sector to thrive in the face of growing customer expectations and industry challenges.

The water sector has a history of creating effective partnerships and alliances, and is increasingly recognising the importance of collaboration, both within its own supply chain and with stakeholders. For example, Anglian Water Services’ @one Alliance first launched in 2005 to deliver major infrastructure projects.

The multi-partner alliance is designed to foster innovation and collaboration and improve the customer experience. The partners are Anglian Water, Balfour Beatty, Barhale, Mott MacDonald Bentley (MMB), SWECO, SKANSKA and MWH Treatment.

Employees in @one Alliance are employed across all partner companies and work together to deliver complex programmes of work designed to better serve existing customers and help ensure supply for future customers.

Another example is the Water Industry Forum, with whom British Water merged on 1 April 2022. The Water Industry Forum tackles challenges facing the UK water sector through thought leadership and facilitated collaborative working. It does this by providing a forum that enables multiple stakeholders to come together to share ideas and develop solutions.

Overall, improving collaboration between water companies and the supply chain is a win-win for both customers and companies. Customers benefit from better customer service, and companies benefit from improved efficiency, effectiveness, and innovation.

As we move forward, British Water remains committed to fostering a collaborative environment within the water sector. We will continue to champion initiatives that bring together water companies, regulators, government agencies, and customer representatives to share knowledge, exchange ideas, and collectively elevate the customer service experience.

Better Together, we can build a water sector that is not only resilient and sustainable, but also deeply responsive to the needs and aspirations of customers. Let us embrace collaboration as the catalyst for transformation, ensuring the water sector can become a beacon of excellence in customer service delivery.