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The water sector leads the way with complaint handling, according to the Institute of Customer Service

From the Knowledge Centre

The results of the Institute of Customer Service’s January 2022 Customer Satisfaction Index (CSI) have shown that complaint handling is significantly improving within the water sector with a customer satisfaction score 8.6 points higher than the UK all sector average marked out of 100 by customers.

Improvements to complaint handling comes alongside the overall customer satisfaction with the water sector increasing by 2.1 points to 75.9 since the 73.8 points result in January 2021, beating the energy sector with which it is partnered in the report, which has a satisfaction score 1.8 points lower than the water industry.

Impressively, five water companies scored above the UK all sector average of 78.4 for customer satisfaction. Northumbrian Water scored 2.3 points higher, Scottish Water 1.7 higher, Welsh Water 1.4 higher, Yorkshire Water 0.4 higher, and South Staffordshire Water scoring 0.2 points higher. Furthermore, South Staffordshire Water and Essex and Suffolk Water were in the top 20 most improved companies for customer service in the UK with annual increased scores of 9.6 points and 8.7 points respectively.

Most notably, the water sector is leading the way in the UK when it comes to complaint handling. The sector has scored above all other sectors including leading customer service performers such as retail, leisure, and tourism with a complaint handling satisfaction score of 74.3.

The water sector is quickly approaching PR24, the next anticipated price review. In the previous 2019 price review, water providers were set stretching targets to drive up customer service performance with Ofwat introducing C-MeX, the customer measure of experience for the water sector. The latest results from the UK CSI show that the sector’s focus on service excellence is positively leading to higher overall customer satisfaction levels.

Leading the way with complaint handling

The results of the UK CSI highlight that when issues arise for customers, they have faith that their water provider handles their complaint fairly and efficiently. The sector is significantly above the UK all-sector score in all dimensions of complaint handling, averaging 0.8 points higher than the UK all-sector average for satisfaction of outcomes of complaints handling, attitude of staff, and speed of resolution. This is a very positive result for the sector, as it shows that, when something goes wrong, customers feel their service is best in class.

Getting it right first time

A key priority for the water sector as a whole is in ensuring they are dealing with customer enquiries correctly at the first time of asking. In this area, there is more work for the sector to do as 74.9% of customers believed they received right first-time service compared to the all-sector average of 79.9%. Obviously, this varies by water company with four of the seventeen water companies involved in the report scoring higher than the all-sector average. Northumbrian, Welsh, South Staffordshire, and Wessex Water all scored higher than the average. However, there is evidently some room for improvement as the sector approaches PR24. The sector needs to focus on and ensure investment in people, processes, and technologies to drive getting things right first time for customers.

The results of this year’s index suggest the water sector is in a good position as the UK approaches PR24 as customer satisfaction continues to improve and satisfaction with complaint handling is best in class. However, going forward, there is scope for continuing to develop customer service offerings to ensure that providers are getting it right first time. As discussed, investing in people and customer preferred processes will support increasing satisfaction and that all important first-time perfect service

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