What does ‘value’ mean to consumers?

Consumers are now more likely to agree they’re getting better value for money from their energy provider than their water company. But what do water consumers really value? The answer, says our Senior Policy Manager Jenny Suggate, may surprise you.

For the third year in a row our annual Water Matters survey, which tracks consumers’ views on their water and sewerage services, has revealed they are more satisfied with the value for money they’re getting from other utilities. The findings show an average of 80% of gas and electricity consumers consider their services offer value for money compared with an average of 74% of water and sewerage consumers.

Research studies consistently cite value for money as an important factor for consumers, regardless of the product or service they’re buying[1]. It’s no different for water and sewerage services and, indeed, it’s becoming even more significant. Our latest consumer perceptions survey shows value for money is now the second most important factor consumers consider when asked to recommend their water and sewerage service, climbing from fifth place in 2015.[2]

The water industry can learn a lesson from this: bills really do matter. Companies need to keep their prices flat and avoid the kind of spiky bill increases that hit energy consumers a few years ago. They also need to demonstrate real value for consumers – a key part of the 2019 Price Review (‘PR19’) which the water industry is now gearing up for.

Communication and trust – the perfect partners

Water companies provide an essential public service that’s vital for health, wellbeing and the economy. With such an important role in society, they must gain and maintain the trust of their consumers. The good news for the water industry is that despite falling back slightly since 2015 it is still trusted by consumers more than energy.

Communication is essential for any service provider, but as domestic water consumers are unable to choose their supplier this is especially important. And it works both ways – consumers should be able to feed back on the service they get, whether it’s good or bad. Those who see their company acting on their comments feel valued and continue to communicate in a constructive way.[3]

Water companies must focus on effective communication, not only as a way of making consumers feel valued, but to show clearly how they’re providing value for money. According to research from the Institute of Customer Service[4], organisations that receive the highest ratings for customer satisfaction and trust score highly across all the channels of communication they use. It’s vital, therefore, that companies offer their consumers a seamless and consistent experience.

Are you dissatisfied with your water and sewerage service? Or are you very happy with it? Whatever you think, speak to your supplier and let them know. And if things do go wrong, contact your provider so they can put things right.

If you’re still unhappy, CCWater is here to help you. We provide guidance, information and support, and will take up your unresolved complaint with the company.

Want to know how your water or sewerage provider is performing when it comes to satisfaction and value for money? Read our Water Matters survey.

You can also find more information at Discover Water.

[1] Deloitte – Customer loyalty: A relationship, not just a scheme 2017.

[2] Trust remains the number one factor for consumers when asked to recommend their water provider.

[3] Communicaid – Regular Communication with Customers is Key to Success.

[4] Institute of Customer Service – 7 ways to build customers’ trust.

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