Business retail: half want to switch and 80% unhappy with current supplier

Water companies in England will “haemorrhage hundreds of thousands of business customers” as new entrant retailers win them over once the market opens next April according to a recent research.

Survey findings published by utility management consultancy, Utilitywise, show 53% of English businesses are likely to switch supplier in 2017. And the study forecasts that three quarters of consumers who are informed about the market are likely to switch while only 37% of those who are unaware of the reforms said they would change supplier.

A better price” was the primary reason for switching supplier for 56% of the 453 businesses quizzed while 22% expected “better customer service” before making the change and 26% “want a supplier they can trust.”

Only 19% were happy with their current supplier. And 30% said they didn’t trust their supplier to put the customer first.

Billing issues emerged from the survey findings as common with 37% of businesses in England having experienced billing errors with half of them being overcharged said Utilitywise. Just over two out of five were satisfied with the way their billing issues were resolved.

Utilitywise predicted that the widespread experience of switching energy supplier will override uncertainty about doing the same with water suppliers. It claimed its research revealed widespread dissatisfaction with value and service provided by current water suppliers. It found that 38% of the customers polled said they pay too much for their water. Businesses in England, according to Utilitywise, would be major beneficiaries of a potentially huge shake-up of the water sector.

Head of water market strategy at Utilitywise, James Duncan, said: “Many water suppliers risk being caught short as business customers will no longer have to tolerate poor customer service and lack of competition.” He went on: “These survey results are a wake-up call to suppliers in the English market. Our experience of the impact of deregulation in the Scottish market shows that the incumbent supplier lost around 50% of its market share for reasons very similar to those highlighted in this survey.”

“The most progressive, innovative, service-oriented suppliers have a fantastic opportunity to raise the service, trust and value bar and win hundreds of thousands of new customers in 2017 and beyond”.

According to Utilitywise, only four in ten businesses in England were aware of water deregulation in 2017, with 25% saying that they were informed. The consultant found that that many businesses did not understand the potential benefits of the coming market changes.

It said its survey showed that 46% of businesses were looking to the government to clarify the changes to the water market, with only 15% trusting information from water companies.