In 2019, the Network Maintenance Partnership was established between Bristol Water, Network Plus and Lewis Civil Engineering with the intention of delivering service improvements and achieve industry leading levels of customer satisfaction, based on shared ambitions and values.
A key aspect of the partnership is its approach to industry-leading collaboration, individual and shared incentives, and risk principles that enable all three partners to share in its achievements and success.
To fully integrate the partnership, the management team and a core group of employees are based in a shared space in Bristol Water’s offices. This encourages idea-sharing, joint-working, and facilitates comprehensive collaboration. All partners use Bristol Water’s core work management systems to plan and schedule work, which improves visibility and efficiency.
A core group and management structure is in place which brings together all partners. Collaboration occurs at every level in the respective business’s organisations, from local operations through to the management team.
The client, Bristol Water, maintains control of prioritisation and customer management to ensure greater focus, consistency, service, and a standard of quality for communication.
The partnership shares resources to meet demand. For example, operational personnel can be flexed from Developer Services to Repair & Maintenance in an agile timescale. This flexibility provides added resilience to enable the partnership to resource according to the greatest need, particularly valuable in responding to weather events.
A shared Passport to Work scheme has been implemented to ensure that all operatives are trained to the same level, providing a level of consistency across the programme of work.
Bristol Water set out an ambitious business plan for 2020 – 2025, which focussed on the need to build trust from their customer base whilst at the same time delivering leading efficiency levels.
To build trust, Bristol Water recognised the need to improve communications with customers at the local level and better use of data linking asset information to customers. The challenge was to ensure that every interaction with Bristol Water is a positive one; including traffic disruption as a result of works.
Bristol Water committed to transforming their cost base, both to the Regulator and bill-paying customers. Ambitious targets were set to reduce costs and implement smart technologies which would lead to lean cost reduction across all work streams (Repair & Maintenance, Capital Projects, Metering, Developer Services).
This intelligent approach to partnership continues to prove its success and results. Accolades and benefits associated with this partnership include:
- Bristol Water has been recognised as the most trusted utility company by the UK Customer Satisfaction Index (UKCSI).
- High industry performance standards for customer service measures (C-MeX): 6th out of 17 (2020-2021) overall, 2nd place for water only companies.
- High industry performance standards for Developer Services Measure of Customer Experience (DMeX): 8th out of 17 (2020-2021) overall, 3rd place for water only companies.
- Rated in the top 4 best performance by the Consumer Council for Water for reducing customer complaints.
- High performance for leakage, outperforming annual target and achieving the lowest level of leakage in the water industry (2020 / 2021)
- A significant improvement in supply interruptions performance (the amount of time for which customers have had their water supply interrupted over the year) reduced from 30 minutes 17 seconds (2020/21) to 2 minutes 31 seconds 2021/22)
- Financial benefits (£212,000) due to CMeX and DMeX results (2021).
- Community and environmental benefits delivered including school partnerships, and engagement programmes.
This model offers benefits for clients, partners, and customers and demonstrates positive results of this level of comprehensive collaboration.