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4 in 10 households would instantly review water supplier in a competitive market

From the Knowledge Centre

Recent research conducted by Echo indicates there is a strong consumer appetite for water competition...

38% of consumers would instantly review their water supplier if the market opened to competition in the near future, according to our new research.

The research also revealed that nearly half of consumers (48%) would favour switching to a single supplier covering their gas, electric and water, if it reduced their overall bill.

The findings, part of our recent "retaining customers in a world of choice" report, found customer service frustrations to be a major reason for consumers to change utility supplier; with 33% saying they switch for this reason, and 17% saying they would specifically switch water supplier because of poor service if they could.

We also found that one in five consumers would review their water supplier within 12 months if the market opened tomorrow, to see if they could get a better deal.

One area the water market could struggle with, if it opens, is offering the levels of price incentive customers may expect, with our report finding that 44% of consumers would only be enticed to switch if they could receive a price saving of 20% or greater.

Whilst the latest research from the Institute of Customer Service revealed that customer satisfaction in the utilities sector was at a nine year high, the sector still languishes behind ten other sectors in the findings. Water companies will, without doubt, be looking closely at their customer service strategies in the near future, especially after Ofwat warned them they must up their game in the face of the new PR19 price review.

“These findings illustrate that there are aspects of service that can be improved and as water companies begin to prepare their business plans for PR19, customer service strategies will be a key priority. Looking towards best practice examples across multiple sectors could help companies to innovate and provide the kind of leading customer service that many consumers now expect."

Chris Cullen, head of sales and marketing, Echo Managed Services

It may be a long time before the consumer water market opens to competition, if indeed it does, but with Ofwat placing more focus on customer service as part of PR19 we can expect to see customer service innovations in the sector and companies making this a real priority in the near future.

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