Northumbrian Water Group


Northumbrian Water Group Alexa Skill



What we delivered

User research, Design sprints, Alexa Skill development

The Lowdown

Northumbrian Water provides water and sewerage services to over 2.7m people in the North East of England, making them one of the UK’s largest utility companies.

They set themselves the goal of becoming the utility industry's most innovative company and they turned to us for guidance in reshaping the way they think and engage with their customers.

The Problem

As a regulated monopoly, the water supplier has a raft of requirements outlined by the water regulator OFWAT that it must comply with, including areas such as customer experience, innovation and stakeholder engagement.

Additionally, they were finding that resource at their call centres was often taken up by simple queries about information available on their digital channels.

They asked us to take a fresh look at their business to explore new channels that would help them surpass their regulatory requirements and improve customer experience.

The Solution

While Northumbrian Water often scored highly on their customer satisfaction, the industry as a whole has historically been averse to technological innovation.

Our multidisciplinary team carried out discovery workshops and design sprints with the team at Northumbrian Water to provide new perspectives on their organisational challenges and how digital technologies might help to mitigate them.

As opening up new engagement channels with their customers was identified as a priority, the team decided that an Alexa skill, which would be a first in the water industry, would provide a unique opportunity to keep customers engaged and provide a more personal way to communicate service updates in their area.


Freely available to all customers on the Alexa Skills store

On-demand voice updates about maintenance and supply issues in their area

Utilises Natural Language Processing (NLP) technology

Provides users with interesting facts to encourage better water habits

Integration with Northumbrian Water’s Twitter feed

The Product

Following the launch of an internal prototype, the Alexa Skill was eventually launched to Northumbrian Water customers on the Alexa Skills Store.

Amongst a range of features, the skill provides customers with the capability to check for maintenance work and water supply issues in their area using just their voice. It also allows Alexa-enabled devices to provide updates relating to ongoing issues in their area when work has been completed or when their water supply has been restored.

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