Efficient customer service at Vitens: the power of the chatbot
Providing reliable drinking water twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week – that is the objective of Vitens , the largest drinking water company in the Netherlands. The company supplies water to more than 5.6 million people and companies in 5 provinces. Delivering the highest possible level of service is central. It is not without reason that the company recently won another prize for the tastiest drinking water. Striving for the highest customer satisfaction is also an important principle for Vitens. This requires excellent customer service.
We spoke with Roy Hendriksen, online service manager at Vitens. Within the organisation he is responsible for the digital channels. In an interview he enthusiastically talks about efficient customer service, the implementation of the chatbot, the collaboration with OBI4wan and the benefits it has brought to Vitens.
The goal: quick and easy help
Helping customers as quickly and easily as possible is the focus for the Vitens customer contact center. Throughout the year, we measure how satisfied customers are with the service they experience when they come into contact with Vitens. The outcomes of the various customer journeys are added together and weighed. Vitens has been scoring high on customer satisfaction for years, with an average customer satisfaction rating of above 8/10. The WhatsApp and live chat contact channels in particular score high.
“Our department has contact with 5.4 million customers annually. This involves thousands of WhatsApp messages and hundreds of Facebook and X (formerly Twitter) messages per week. It is important to deal with this properly. That is why we chose OBI Engage to service these channels.”
A chatbot for WhatsApp
A highlight of the collaboration with OBI4wan is the implementation of the OBI Bot on the WhatsApp channel. The WhatsApp bot plays an important role in Vitens‘ customer contact. Vitens‘ webcare team mainly has contact with private customers. A large number of questions come in via WhatsApp. It is a very suitable channel for quickly handling simple questions. For example, customers can quickly and easily take a photo with their phone and forward it. This also makes it a suitable channel for transmitting meter readings. Almost half of all traffic on the WhatsApp channel concerns meter readings. This is a standard process that can easily be automated. That is why Vitens has chosen to have these questions handled using the bot.
“We were guided by OBI4wan in the process of setting up the chatbot, after which we were able to do a lot ourselves. This way we can develop scenarios ourselves and expand the bot. Its strength lies in its simplicity. There are no complicated processes behind it. We were able to handle the most common customer questions on short notice, and we are satisfied with that.”
Automation of simple and complex questions
More complex questions and more extensive processes, such as those relating to relocations and payment arrangements, are also handled by the bot. Customers are referred to the website, where they can arrange many things themselves in their My Vitens environment. Roy explains: “We offer extensive channels that allow customers to choose how they want to contact us. We strive to help the customer as much as possible without human intervention, provided that the customer also wants this. There is always the opportunity to speak to an employee during opening hours. Our telephone accessibility is high, especially for malfunctions.”
Quick and easy help in case of malfunctions
In the event of disruptions, customers must be helped quickly and effectively. In addition to a separate telephone line for disruptions and malfunctions, the chatbot also makes a valuable contribution. Messages regarding malfunctions are automatically received by the bot and forwarded to the correct department, so that the problem is resolved as quickly as possible. This makes it easier for both the customer and the organisation.
“The bot has become very successful. Thanks to recognition, the bot can answer questions that would normally have to be handled by an agent. A large number of routine questions asked in advance are answered by the bot. And when a human employee has to be involved, the bot acts as an assistant. By automatically requesting personal details and customer data, our employees need fewer messages to handle questions.”
Efficiency outside of working hours: save time on Monday morning
A real payoff for Vitens: the bot is also active outside working hours. This saves the customer contact center employees a lot of time in processing what they describe as the “Monday morning messages”. When a customer contacts Vitens via WhatsApp outside opening hours, they can be helped by the bot, or can be asked via an automatic message to contact Vitens again within opening hours. Previously, the team spent at least three hours at the start of the work week sending standard messages to expired conversations that were started over the weekend. Thanks to the bot, the webcare team is often ready before 9 am on Monday. A major advantage in their quest for fast and efficient customer service.
The bot has been running for a year and a half now and has proven its value for Vitens. The bot takes a lot of work off their hands and contributes to efficient customer service. The smooth implementation and user-friendliness of the system have had a positive impact on the entire webcare team. This way, employees are relieved and customers are helped quickly and efficiently, even outside working hours.