Four in ten consumers would instantly review their water supplier if the market opened to competition, according to new research published by Echo Managed Services, whilst one in five consumers said they’d review their supplier within the first 12 months of market opening.
Customer service frustrations were found to be a major reason for consumers to change their utility supplier; with 33% of consumers saying they’d switch for this reason, and 17% saying they’d specifically switch water supplier because of poor service if they had the chance.
However, the same research indicated that the water market, if opened, could struggle to offer the levels of price incentives that consumers may expect. 44% of consumers said they’d only switch if they could receive a saving of 20% or greater.
Interestingly, the research also revealed that almost half of consumers (48%) would favour switching to a single utility supplier who could cover their gas, electric and water supply, if it lead to overall savings on their bills.
This research comes not long after research from the Institute of Customer Service revealed that although 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 coming months, especially given Ofwat’s expectations outlined in the PR19 price review.
Our latest research findings illustrate that their are aspects of service that water companies can improve upon, and as they begin to prepare their PR19 business plans, customer service strategies will be a key priority. Looking towards best practice examples across multiple sectors could help companies to innovate and provide the high levels of customer service that many consumers now expect.
Andy Mack, software services director, Echo Managed Services
It could be a long time before the water household market opens to competition, if indeed it does at all, but with Ofwat placing more focus on customer service as part of the PR19 review, we can certainly expect to see more customer service innovations and water companies making this a real priority in the near future.