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  • by Karma Loveday

Two of three firms on report to watchdog over complaints show improvement

The Consumer Council for Water has reported two of the three companies it singled out for extra reporting following poor complaints performance in 2017/18 significantly improved in the first half of 2018/19.

Phone complaints fell by 15% at SES Water and written complaints by more than a third during the first six months of 2018/19.

Last year’s worst performer Southern Water reported calls made by customers to resolve problems fell 34%, while written complaints fell 32%.

However, written complaints to Bristol Water, where CC Water saw the largest rise in complaints of any water company in England and Wales during 2017/18, went up 1% in the same period. The watchdog noted, though, that call complaints had substantially reduced and the company had improved its engagement on social media.

SES Water provided an update on its most recent performance. It said it had received 30% fewer unwanted contacts in Q3 (2019) compared to Q1 of last year (2018) and that its complaints were the lowest they have been for the past four years. The company reported it was on track to finish the year with 46% less complaints than 2016-17.

SES Water is half way through a two-year customer experience transformation programme which includes making changes to systems and processes and investing in employees.

Head of retail services, Dan Lamb, commented: “We want the most satisfied customers in the country so providing high-quality service and reducing complaints is very important to us. We are now at a three year low of 9.5 complaints per 10,000 properties and during 2018 we reduced complaints by 39 per cent and saw a 17 per cent reduction in unwanted contacts. The improvements we are making have also seen us increase our position in the Service Incentive Mechanism (SIM) league table this year and achieve our highest ever billing score. In our business plan for 2020 to 2025 we aim to go even further and achieve upper quartile C-MeX performance by building on all the good work we’re already doing.”

All three companies have been asked to provide CC Water with further updates on complaint handling to ensure they continue to improve.

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