CCW tells firms to be more than “silent providers” as customer perception stalls

Water companies should take decisive action to boost unimpressive levels of customer satisfaction with fairness and value for money, according to a report by the Consumer Council for Water (CCWater).

The water watchdog’s latest annual Water Matters survey shows that while 9 out of 10 customers are satisfied with their water and sewerage services, only 6 in10 agree that their charges are fair -– a figure that has remained static for seven years.

It said perceptions of fairness are strongly influenced by customer experience. Those customers who think charges are unfair are more likely to have made cont

act with their water company in the past 12 months, and are also less likely to recommend their water company or believe the company cares. Negative perceptions of fairness can also have an underlying effect on satisfaction in other areas such as value for money, so by addressing this, water companies can make positive progress towards improving wider customer perceptions.

CC Water urged water companies to be more than "silent providers", challenging mediocre performance and making every contact count positively with their customers. Mike Keil (pictured), CCWater’s head of policy and research said: “Customers’ perceptions of fairness and value for money have remained disappointingly static for seven years… Unless water companies take action now, it’s unlikely that we will see a reversal of this trend anytime soon.”

Meanwhile, Water Matters also showed company performance varied. Those who did well celebrated their success. CC Water said Welsh Water was the top water and sewerage company, with strong performance across several key measures and improving seven-year trends. Welsh Water highlighted in particular: “Levels of trust in Welsh Water is higher than all other water and sewerage companies in England and Wales, rated at 8.15 – with 10 representing ‘trust them completely.”

CC Water also highlighted good performance from Northumbrian and Anglian among the WASCs and Dee Valley, Portsmouth and Hartlepool of the smaller companies. Northumbrian highlighted that it had the highest Net Promoter Score of all WASCs and the most trusted English company.

Water UK chief executive, Michael Roberts, said: "Thanks to £150 billion of investment by water companies since the 1990s, customer satisfaction with water and sewerage services remains very high. However, we fully recognise that there is still more to do on other issues. Average bills are currently around £1 a day and have remained roughly the same for the last 20 years in real terms; while 6 out of 10 people see that as good value for money, we are determined to improve on that."