Research just released by the Consumer Council for Water (CC Water) on business customer experiences in the first year of live operation depicts a market characterised by low awareness, limited appeal and poor experience among those who have switched. The main positive feedback was that the switch process itself was reported to be smooth.
The qualitative research, based on focus groups and interviews with 72 participants of various sizes, reported the following of different customer types:
SMEs – awareness was low and few benefits were perceived. Respondents who had engaged said it was hard to compare prices. Phil Marshall, CC Water deputy chief executive, said: “All of us in the sector need to work harder to change the perception among many small businesses that this market has very little to offer them.”
Larger organisations – these were all aware of the opportunity to choose a supplier, and were interested in the realistic benefits benefits on the table. However customers who had engaged/switched reported multiple problems including with legacy accounts, billing, data and customer service.
Third party intermediaries – TPIs largely corroborated the findings from both SMEs and large organisations. They also: noted dissatisfaction with the default retailer due to worsening service was a factor behind some organisations’ decision to switch; remarked on the apparent lack of learning from other markets; and said price comparison was a major source of frustration.
The report made nine recommendations to overcome the problems identified by the research. These included to resolve issues, facilitate price comparison, accept price savings drive engagement, communicate better, provide better information and bundle services.