In May, we proudly announced we had completed the acquisition of WaterSmart Software. The addition of WaterSmart supports VertexOne's ongoing strategy of providing utilities with a complete set of SaaS solutions and enhanced services to facilitate critical asset-to-cash business processes. With this acquisition, VertexOne now serves nearly 200 water, electric and gas utilities, and 17 million end customers, making it the largest provider of 100% SaaS-based software solutions to the North American Utility industry.
"We are excited to welcome WaterSmart and its customers to the VertexOne family. We look forward to expanding upon the great foundation WaterSmart has built to provide superior customer engagement and utility analytics," said VertexOne CEO Andrew Jornod. "This acquisition solidifies VertexOne's commitment to serving our utility clients by combining innovative modern technologies with world-class customer service."
This statement summarizes why joining forces with WaterSmart furthers the VertexOne mission, but where do we go from here? Let's dig deeper into what WaterSmart brings to the table and why its integration will be a big win for VertexOne's current and future utility partners and their customers.
Like VertexOne, itself a pioneer in enhanced SaaS solutions for the utility industry, WaterSmart is a pioneer in the use of behavioral customer engagement and analytics for utilities. While WaterSmart has historically focused solely on water utilities, both companies saw that much of WaterSmart's functionality could be applicable or adapted to the electric and gas markets as well.
WaterSmart's Ali Barsamian shares WaterSmart was born out of the California drought on the premise that by using insightful data analytics and social norming, both water consumers and utilities could improve water efficiency. However, conservation was just the beginning. Over the past few years, WaterSmart expanded its offerings, providing a Customer Portal where customers can see clear insights into their consumption and billing. It also provided a powerful Utility Analytics Dashboard filled with engagement solutions and over 50 reports which surface actionable data insights for utility staff. Customers also gain access to digital self-service solutions to resolve their most common problems—such as high bills, leaks, and initiating service requests—all without having to call or visit their utility.
Customer Advantage and WaterSmart: "Exceptionally Complementary"
According to Bill Mareburger, VP of product management, WaterSmart's analytics and insights are "exceptionally complementary" to the experience provided by Customer Advantage, VertexOne's web and mobile self-service platform. Customer Advantage focuses on the customer's self-service interface into the billing system, payment arrangements, and creating and monitoring service orders. WaterSmart's primary intent is to provide tools to customers so they can answer their own questions, manage their budget, and solve common problems on their own.
Together, Customer Advantage and WaterSmart reinforce VertexOne's commitment to not only bring utilities the solutions they need to provide next-level customer service but also to enhance the experience of utility customers themselves.
For water utility customers, we can now provide unique insights into their consumption and help identify potential problems and solutions. For example, if a customer’s consumption data meets particular parameters, they will receive a notification via email, text, or voice call to alert them they may have a leak. The customer can then click the link from the alert and be sent into a leak resolution workflow. The resolution walks them through a series of steps and videos to help them identify and resolve the leak on their own, without having to call their utility for guidance. This closed-loop leak detection, notification, and resolution is one-of-a-kind and boosts customer satisfaction while improving operational efficiency for utility staff.
WaterSmart has dozens of such solutions and insights for water customers, and while many of these concepts translate to gas and electric customers, these utilities have their nuances. VertexOne and WaterSmart teams are already considering how to extend these and other actionable insights to gas and electric utilities. At the core, though, the common goal is to provide "personalized" customer-oriented insights and behavioral analytics, which can, in turn, provide recommendations that lead to improved customer satisfaction, dollar savings, and a feeling of being more in control.
Utilities themselves also benefit from the solutions WaterSmart brings to the VertexOne suite. With WaterSmart’s Utility Dashboard, utilities can aggregate hundreds of different insights across their entire customer base for a macro view of consumption and impacts—all without needing to build a custom reporting solution. For example, they can identify groups of customers that are on track to have a higher-than-normal bill in a particular billing period. For areas with water or other restrictions on certain days of the week, for example, they can begin to see if customers are abiding by them—and which customers are not. And the benefits don’t end with the analytics. Utility staff also have powerful Group Messaging solutions available at their fingertips, allowing them to send timely and targeted messages to their customers with just a few clicks.
"As long as the utility has the data, then we can layer this on top and provide those insights to them in a much more cost-effective and quicker way than going in custom and building something," says Mareburger. "That's just another way WaterSmart and Customer Advantage work together in a very complementary manner."
VertexOne + WaterSmart: A Win-Win for Utilities and Their Customers
As you can see, we believe adding WaterSmart to the VertexOne family will further our commitment to serving our utility clients by combining innovative modern technologies with world-class customer service. WaterSmart will become part of VertexOne's family of fully hosted and managed customer engagement and data analytics solutions, with VertexOne hosting, administering, and running it on behalf of its utility clients.
VertexOne utility clients and their customers now get the customer self-service and deeper insights offered by WaterSmart, and WaterSmart customers now have access to VertexOne's billing, CIS, and other services. And with an integrated user interface, the two will provide a seamless, integrated experience, both for utilities and their customers.
The result? Utilities of all sizes—from small to medium to enterprise-level with millions of customers—can now enjoy the advantages of VertexOne's enhanced CIS/customer engagement offerings. In short, it's a win-win for everyone.