Newsroom 01 December 2020

Northumbrian Water and Netcall explore new app to allow 24/7 payment support for customers struggling financially


We were delighted to be invited to take part in the 2020 Northumbrian Water Innovation Festival. The theme of this year’s festival, which was held online for the first time due to COVID-19, was ‘Build Back Better’.

In our session at the Innovation Festival, “Money’s too tight to mention” we looked at how to help customers who are falling into debt. With millions of people about to come off furlough and rising unemployment rates, defaults on bills has never been so high.

Bad debt and defaulted payments were an issue before the global pandemic and the situation has only got worse. This is causing issues with debt recovery and produces a huge amount of work to process. As well as demand into contact centres.

As traditional back end systems are not known for their flexibility, we demonstrated how our low-code solution could be used to automate this process, giving customers a self-serve portal. We wanted to be able to identify customers who are struggling to pay and reach out to them to make them aware of the support available. A multi-channel offering and an ability to adapt to the needs of customers quicker than we could before are key to making this a positive experience.

At the festival, we hosted a ‘daily dash’, a rapid sprint-style workshop that runs through all 5 stages in just 1 day. We had representatives from a number of water companies as well as Citizen’s Advice representing the customer viewpoint. Using an online virtual whiteboard, we workshopped ideas for a payment support app and as part of the festival we took these ideas to Northumbrian Water’s customers to gain their feedback as well.

After the festival, we took all the great ideas and built the solution in just one week. Something that could only be achieved with a low-code solution. The feedback on the app was very positive, and Northumbrian Water Group has now granted almost £130,000 worth of funding to develop ideas from the festival and we are pleased to announce that this app has been included.

Angela MacOscar, Head of Innovation at Northumbrian Water, said:

Our customers are very much at the heart of everything we do, especially during the difficult times that we are currently experiencing. This new app will provide our customers with the extra support that they may need, and will also reduce worry.

It will enable customers to better manage their accounts, and I can’t wait to see the progression of the app.

We have also made the payment support app available for free to all of our low-code customers on our Community AppShare.

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