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  • by Trevor Loveday

Research finds Yorkshire fell short in communications during loss of supply

Research into Yorkshire Water’s handling of a loss-of-supply incident last autumn found that customers' appraisal was that Yorkshire Water “had not handled the incident well, with limited and ineffectual communication at the heart of their frustration.”

The report of the findings of the study by market researcher, Blue Marble, included observations that there was:

  • a lack of desired information around a projected timescale for resolution;

  • very little proactive, official communication from Yorkshire Water throughout the incident; and

  • a shortfall in information and clarity over dos and don’ts such as whether to drink the tap water or not.

The authors said households in vulnerable circumstances were generally more vocal about the perceived lack of support from Yorkshire Water yet “the vast majority” received no direct communication.

Lessons learned, as listed in the study report, included: 

  • “communication is key to customers’ experience of an incident, and informs perceptions of their company”; 

  • “companies should ensure that all customers affected by an incident receive direct communications around the incident"; 

  • "companies should be open and honest in their communication"; and 

  • communications must be realistic and not raise expectations of people affected unreasonably. 

The research, under a programme devised by Ofwat and the Consumer Council for Water, followed Yorkshire’s performance in the eyes of its customers after it was forced to shut off or cut pressure for some 12,700 properties – including some 660 people on the company’s priority services register – in Goole, Yorkshire between 27th October and 13th November 2023. The initial issue was caused by a pipe burst affecting a water tower, with multiple, subsequent bursts occurring during repressurising of the system.

The research programme is primarily focused on water or wastewater-related incidents that affect people in their homes or gardens or going about their daily lives.


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