We promise to deliver customer service you can rely on

Great customer service relies on understanding what our customers need, anticipating problems, resolving complaints quickly and courteously and developing new, innovative services that fit into people’s busy lifestyles. We want our customers to trust us and have confidence in our service.

We’ve made really good progress over the past few years, developing new services and introducing a ‘right first time’ culture across our business. Improvements have included the re-introduction of all contact centres back to the North West and a system that allows customers to speak to an advisor instantly, rather than navigating lengthy automated menus;

a more sophisticated online service to allow customers to manage their water accounts; clearer, plain English bills; a welcome pack for home movers; a specialist Careline team which supports customers who may need extra help, for example those suffering ill health, a bereavement, or with mental health issues.

Our customer service scores, as monitored by our regulator, Ofwat, are on an upward trajectory, thanks to these efforts. However, we recognise that there is still room for improvement, and we have ambitious plans for the future.

What customers and stakeholders have told us so far

Our most recent customer satisfaction score revealed that 88 per cent of customers we asked are ‘fairly satisfied’ or ‘very satisfied’ with our service - a step in the right direction, but evidence that we still have some way to go.

Customer feedback has included:

  • Call centres based in the UK, staffed by employees with good local knowledge, are important to our customers
  • Customers expect professional and courteous service when they contact us, and for employees to resolve problems speedily
  • Customers sometimes feel they have to chase us for information. They want us to be more proactive when letting them know about problems and want to be kept informed until an issue is resolved
  • We need to make it easy for customers to get in touch through phone, email and social media
  • I’ve never had cause to call them really but of course this is important. They do need to be there in the background in case you need them.

    Customer

What we’ll achieve

Customers are highly satisfied with our service

 

We’ll ensure our customer service is of the highest quality and that we are easy to do business with.

Our proposals for the next 25 years:

Key
Service improvement
Maintaining service

We are embedding a ‘right first time’ culture across all business areas, developing new services to improve customer convenience and ensuring we are always accessible and straightforward to deal with.

In the years to come, we will work hard to retain our regional business customers and attract new ones from beyond the North West, as the sector is opened up to greater competition. This will be achieved through competitive pricing and tailored services which will allow businesses to take more control of their water consumption and wastewater needs.

Our approach will involve:

Getting it right first time

We will do more to identify potential problems before they arise (e.g. network issues) so that our customers are not inconvenienced. If we cannot fix a problem straight away, we will keep customers informed of progress so that they do not need to chase us.

Treating customers as individuals

We will provide an attentive service which is tailored to customers’ needs - from ‘extra care’ services for elderly or vulnerable customers to help for those who are facing financial difficulties.

Being accessible and easy to deal with

We are committed to keeping our customer contact centres here in the North West, staffed by people who know the region. We will continue to evolve our communications in response to new technologies, changing population demographics and the need to complement our customers’ busy lives.

Supporting our people to provide great service

We will continue to invest in our people so they are well trained and able to offer a more personal and tailored service to our customers.

A focused service for business customers

We are already preparing for the introduction of a more competitive business customer market in 2017. Our aspiration is to become the business supplier of choice in the North West and a significant part of the wider UK market. To achieve this, we need to provide businesses with excellent value for money and tailored services aligned with their individual needs. For example, we will help our business customers manage their water use, site drainage and wastewater disposal more efficiently. We will also offer online metering services and provide dedicated customer managers, with expert knowledge of specific business sectors, to help customers reduce costs.

Meeting the needs of our business customers

Deregulation of the water industry means a number of business customers can already choose their water provider. From 2017, all business customers will be able to do so.

Our challenge in the coming years is to ensure we meet the needs of our business customers, so that they want to stay with us in this new competitive landscape, and that new customers choose to do business with us.

That means offering customers great service, helping them save money and adding value to their businesses, by being trusted partners.

We’ve been doing a lot of work to better understand our business customers, such as using regular meetings with them, formal research projects and data analysis to ensure we have the most rounded view.

Business customers have told us they expect:

  • Good customer service, with a single point of contact, flexible billing and speedy resolution of issues
  • Value for money, with clear, transparent pricing
  • A reliable supply, with contingency planning built-in