Customer Spotlight: People’s views and experiences of water

This joint piece of research with regulator Ofwat set out to explore customers’  understanding and awareness of their water companies, as well as their views on issues such as the affordability of bills and trust in the sector.

The study found that the majority of customers across England and Wales are satisfied with the service they receive. However there are also some areas where progress is needed to break down barriers between companies and customers. Most notably, many customers do not think companies are acting in their interests, or those of the environment and the community.

Other key findings:

  • More than a third of customers (34%) struggle to pay bills fairly frequently, yet only 4% of people reported receiving financial help from their water company over the past year.
  • A minority of people think companies act in the interests of customers (27%), the environment (27%) and the local community (29%).
  • 48% of people feel they are already doing as much as they can to save water in the home despite not taking straightforward actions such as using a washing up bowl.
  • Customers do not tend to see reducing water use in the home or garden as a priority activity for achieving net zero or climate change. Only 9% of those familiar with the term net zero ranked this as a priority compared to higher rankings for activities such as recycling.

This initial report provides us with a valuable benchmark for future years when Ofwat and ourselves will continue to track customers’ views.

In the meantime, we will use these findings as part of our wider campaigning to ensure water companies strengthen their relationships with the communities they serve.

The findings of this research should also be taken into consideration as companies prepare for their 2024 price review business plans.