Water Matters: Household customers’ views of their water and sewerage services 2017

We have published our 2017 Water Matters research, which tracks household customers’ views on their water and sewerage services and how these have changed over time. Over 5,100 telephone interviews were conducted with household water and sewerage bill payers across England and Wales. This year, as well as presenting the research data, we have produced a ‘Highlights Report’, focusing on customers’ views of the water industry in comparison with other sectors. The research shows that, in general, customers’ views of the water industry are static and we think that companies could – and should – do more to address this.

Key messages:

  • Satisfaction with overall water and sewerage services in 2017 is at 92%, with 88% of customers satisfied with sewerage services.
  • Satisfaction with value for money of water services is at 72%, while satisfaction with value for money of sewerage services is at 75%.  The seven-year trend in these figures has remained static for seven years, and we’re calling on water companies to aim for more.
  • 74% of customers feel their charges are affordable. However, a much lower number, 61%, perceive their charges are fair.
  • There is a downward seven-year trend in customers who say they are likely to contact their water company if worried about their bill; although of the 18% of customers who have contacted their supplier for any reason in 2017, 82% say they are satisfied.

In the Highlights report, we examine the reasons why some customers consider that providers of other household services, such as energy, offer better value for money than the water industry. One of the key factors was fairness. If they seek to improve customers’ views of the fairness of charges, water companies could improve wider customer perceptions. There is an opportunity for companies to do a lot more on affordability, improving their complaints handling processes and improving communications, especially on issues such as water quality and metering.

Water companies should be more than ‘silent providers’, challenging mediocre performance and making every contact count positively with their customers.