June 10, 2022

The Water Industry 2022 Customer Spotlight

Author:
Olly Worsfold, Director
Over four fifths (87%) of customers want companies to focus on providing clean, safe drinking water and a similar proportion (84% and 82%) want them to focus on preventing sewage entering both consumers’ homes and bodies of water.

We are delighted to have worked with Ofwat and the Consumer Council for Water (CCW) on their recent Customer Spotlight. This research provides a crucial view into how consumers across England and Wales interact with water. It looks at a broad range of measures including affordability, satisfaction, and engagement with awareness of services. There is also a dedicated focus on awareness of the link between water usage and the environment.


Ofwat and CCW each play fundamental roles in the water and wastewater industries, as the regulator and the statutory consumer body respectively. They jointly commissioned Savanta to undertake their first Customer Spotlight report, providing an important window into customer views and behaviours in relation to the sector. The research was designed to be fully inclusive, with sample boosts of digitally disenfranchised consumers and those from ethnic minority backgrounds.

In order for the industry to be as customer centric as possible, the research sought to provide insightful answers to the following questions:

  • How well do consumers understand their water provider?
  • How engaged are consumers with water companies?
  • How satisfied are consumers with their water providers and the services they receive?
  • Which priorities do consumers want water providers to focus on in the future?
  • How do consumers think about water use and the environment?
  • How frequently are consumers undertaking behaviours that impact the water environment?

We found that understanding, engagement, and satisfaction with the industry was mixed:

  • Five in six (83%) claimed to know which company provides water to their home, but a quarter (26%) mistakenly believed they can change their water company if they are not happy with the service they receive.
  • A quarter (24%) have contacted their water provider in the last year, with the most common reason being billing enquiries. However, three in ten (28%) bill payers did not pay much attention to their last water bill.
  • Two thirds (65%) were happy with the water services they receive but only 40% believe they receive a good service. In contrast, just over half (56%) were happy with the wastewater and drainage services.

However, customers were more unified in their views on where water companies should focus in the future. Over four fifths (87%) of customers want companies to focus on providing clean, safe drinking water and a similar proportion (84% and 82%) want them to focus on preventing sewage entering both consumers’ homes and bodies of water.

Q: Thinking about your water company and their focus over the next 10-20 years, please rate the following on a scale from 1 to 10 according to how important they are for you, with 10 being extremely important and 1 being not at all important. Base: All respondents (n=2,623). % Selecting 8-10 out of 10.

As the above chart demonstrates, environmental areas rank lower down the list of future priorities for water companies in the eyes of consumers. This could be partly driven by the fact that only half believe that we need to use less water in this country. Even fewer consumers believe that England and Wales are vulnerable to water shortages (35%) while one in seven (14%) believe we will not run out of water.

For more information, please find the report here or get in touch with oliver.worsfold@savanta.com.

 


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