Case Study

Sectors: Utilities
Service(s): Depth Interviews, Project Design, Qualitative
Approach(es): Customer Insight

The Challenge

As a revenue management specialist working with seven UK water companies, Echo Managed Services was keen to uncover some lessons about the difference in debt collection performance between two sectors - water companies and local authorities. It also wanted to explore to what extent Water UK was justified in its belief that water companies could recoup more money if they had the same powers of collection as local authorities.

The Approach

A qualitative approach was advised and DJS Research conducted semi-structured telephone interviews with the two audiences.

Interviews consisted of a mix of open and closed questions.

The person we spoke to within each company or authority had to have knowledge of the debt collection processes used within their organisation, including the systems and suppliers used.

The Results

What is immediately apparent from comparing the two sets of findings is that local authorities' superior collection rates cannot be put down to better systems, processes and data management. Indeed there are few areas in which councils are more advanced than their water peers. In the use of technology and the sophistication of collection processes, local authorities are behind the water industry. These are also identified by those interviewed as being the two areas which need improving the most. Only in their approach to data management are the two sectors at a similar level.

In terms of the way the collections function operates, it seems local authorities may have more to learn from water companies than the other way round. The different powers of collection at the disposal of each sector then, could be the most significant factor in explaining councils' higher collection rates. While water and local government share many powers of collection (for example, both can use and threaten to use attachment of earnings or benefits, debt collectors and bankruptcy action), there are some key differences.



"I approached half a dozen agencies for a proposal for a B2B market intelligence project. I found that DJS responded quickly to the brief, understood the objectives better than any agency and, once commissioned, sustained a good level of engagement and understanding. DJS met the objectives I had set and completed the project within a challenging timeframe. Moreover, Ali and Danny were able to add value and bring constructive ideas to the project which improved the quality of information uncovered, improved the success rate of interview recruitment and increased the business value of the final report".

Head of Marketing, Echo Managed Services

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