Customers Rule In Ofwat’s Vision Of Britain’s Water Future

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Jason McKinley 15th February 2017 3 minute read

Customers Rule In Ofwat’s Vision Of Britain’s Water Future

Given the media scrutiny regarding the apparent lack of trust customers have in their utility providers, it’s unsurprising Ofwat sets out a 2020 vision focussing on customers having confidence and trust in vital public water and wastewater services. However, it’s about much more than that. 

With a rising population, and in areas set to have less rainfall, the water industry will come under ever increasing pressure to install universal metering (especially across large swathes of southern England). Many customers will be metered against their will. A number of those will have affordability concerns and may already be vulnerable.

So, in an era that, from 2020, may see householders able to choose their water retailer (Ofwat is currently consulting on this), it will be vital for water companies to have robust customer engagement programmes.

These programmes will need to foster loyalty among existing customers and, by engaging them effectively, generate actionable insight to meet individual customer needs, including:

  • implementing effective customer feedback mechanisms
  • providing an effortless customer experience through customers’ channels of choice
  • recognising and addressing circumstances which lead to vulnerability
  • providing tailored services relevant to specific customers.

All the above will need to be delivered as efficiently as possible to keep prices down.

In the past, water companies have largely focused on the most efficient way to handle calls, rather than challenge themselves on why customers are calling. It’s been about unit cost per call rather than overall cost to serve. Only now are they realising the true value of understanding why a customer is contacting them and having a proactive intervention ready before they do.

Water companies have yet to develop sophisticated insight and analytics expertise, and are not utilising the rich data they have. They quickly need to get access to that expertise and build the infrastructure around it, so they understand how to add value to customers.

Of course there’ll be other companies that have this capability thinking, “why don’t we apply it to water?” You’ll have consumers, educated by what other companies are already doing, expecting exceptional service through their preferred contact channels. And we have another three years of that education and even more service improvements to come before we even reach 2020! 

Capita Customer Management’s Insight & Analytics team is already helping some of the largest water companies develop their customer engagement programmes to stay competitively well-placed.

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