A major piece of research conducted by DJS Research for the Consumer Council for Water (CCWater) has recently been a national talking point, featuring on a number of prominent radio and TV programmes.
The Water Matters
research sheds light on how the water services industry compares with other service sectors and focusses on the views that customers have in relation to fairness and value for money.
It surveyed 5110 water-bill payers across England and Wales and covered a variety of topics including satisfaction with water services, sewerage services, company contact and bills.
The annual study found 92% of customers are satisfied overall with the service they receive (water services) and 88% are satisfied with their sewerage service. And while almost three-quarters agree that their water bills are affordable, perceptions of fairness are much lower, with 61% agreeing charges are fair. These views, say Water Matters, are strongly shaped by customer experience.
For example, the customers who feel that charges are unfair are more likely to have contacted their water company in the last twelve months and are less likely to believe their water provider cares about them as a customer as well as being less likely to recommend them.
The survey also found that while customers views in many areas have stayed broadly the same over the past 7 years, the perceptions they have around fairness are out of kilter with opinion in other areas.
The Water Matters report recommends that water companies should work to bring views on fairness in line with satisfaction in other areas. Speaking on Wake Up to Money
on Radio 5 Live, Tony Smith, Chief Executive of the Consumer Council for Water said:
"Although 9 out of 10 customers like services they are getting, there is a big problem with customers’ views about the fairness of the bills they are paying - that's about price rises, service issues, profits.”
Responding to CC Water's Water Matters report, 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."
You can find highlights of the Water Matters report here
, or access the full version