Customers

We use a wide variety of other information to assess risks to customers – and decide whether we need to take action on your behalf. This is part of our approach for holding water companies to account.

Below we highlight the overall performance of the monopoly water and sewerage and water only companies in England and Wales in 2012-13 – and any action we are taking to protect customers’ interests.

Customer indicators

In 2012-13, the companies scored an average of 77 out of 100 for customer service. This ranged from 88 (South Staffs Water) to 62 (Southern Water). In 2011-12 the average score was 75 – ranging from 85 to 56.

Each company’s customer service score is based on the number of customer enquiries and complaints they receive (‘customer contacts’) – and how satisfied customers were with the way the company dealt with them.

The number of written complaints that the companies received fell by more than 12,000 last year. This was the fifth year in a row that complaints had fallen.

Customer satisfaction with the overall manner in which the companies handled their concerns was high. We asked 16,000 customers to give us their view of how well their company did on a scale of 1 to 5 (where 5 indicates they were ‘very satisfied’).

The average result for all the companies in 2012-13 was 4.44. ln 2011-12 the average result was 4.34.

In other news, the number of properties flooded from overflowing sewers increased (from 1,602 in 2011-12 to 3,838 in 2012-13). These events were often related to heavy rainfall. Sewer flooding is an unpleasant occurrence and companies have explained what they doing to reduce the impact of such heavy rainfall in future. For example looking at their response times and the success of education schemes to keep sewers free of debris like cooking fat.  Companies are also reprioritising their investment in sewer flooding reduction schemes to reflect these more recent experiences.

Did you know that water companies must maintain certain basic guaranteed standards of service (GSS)? If they do not, affected customers must receive a payment. Find out more about your services and the standards you should expect.

Action we are taking

Customer contacts and satisfaction form part of our service incentive mechanism (SIM). The SIM is one of the ways in which we encourage the companies to improve their performance. Although all companies’ performance was satisfactory in 2012-13, we will take account of their performance next year when we decide the prices that all companies can charge their customers during each of the five years between 2015-20. The poorest performers during 2010-15 will be penalised and the best rewarded. You can find out how the SIM works by reading our SIM factsheet.

Customers were generally satisfied with the service they received in 2012-13. This does not mean that services were perfect, but where service failures have occurred companies have explained how they have (or will) put things right for their customers.

Although sewer flooding increased, companies have explained why this has happened and are taking action to improve their performance. We will be watching to see that companies continue to maintain and operate sewers to keep the risk of sewer flooding as low as possible.

Data

We have collated below the performance data companies have published.

SIM ScoreInternal sewer flooding incidentsWater supply interruptions – hours per total properties served
Anglian
85.00
204
0.23
Dŵr Cymru
84.00
103
0.85
Northumbrian
80.15
1,196
0.12
Northumbrian (Essex & Suffolk)
Severn Trent
78.11
255
0.48
South West
70.50
118
0.27
Southern
62.20
243
0.30
Thames
62.90
549
0.22
United Utilities
78.00
906
0.30
Wessex
85.00
109
0.40
Yorkshire
78.00
155
0.17
Affinity Water
 – Central area
80.00
0.35
 – East area
85.00
0.04
 – Southeast area
83.00
0.10
Bristol
86.00
0.39
Dee Valley
76.00
0.26
Portsmouth
68.00
0.07
Sembcorp Bournemouth
87.00
0.07
South East
72.66
0.22
South Staffs
88.00
0.13
South Staffs (Cambridge)
87.00
0.31
Sutton & East Surrey
81.00
0.25

Green means the company’s performance is in line with or better than expected
Amber means the company’s performance is not in line with expectations but performance has slipped only slightly
Red means the company’s performance is significantly below target or expectation
Blue means companies did not have to submit this data
White means companies did not report a red, amber or green status