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 2014-15 – and any action we are taking to protect customers’ interests.

Customer indicators

In 2014-15, the companies scored an average of 82 out of 100 for customer service. This ranged from 88 (Bournemouth) to 75 (South West). In 2013-14 the average score was 82 – ranging from 89 (South Staffs Water) to 71 (Thames). 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 complaints received by the Consumer Council for Water (CCWater) increased slightly from 9,957 to 10,138 last year. This follows a long-term trend for falling numbers of complaints received by CCWater (from a peak of almost 18,000 complaints in 2009-10) and received by companies (from more than 250,000 complaints in 2007-08 to 123,218 complaints in 2013-14).

Customer satisfaction with the overall manner in which the companies handled their concerns was high. We asked 14,400 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 2014-15 was 4.24 out of five, which (although not directly comparable) is slightly lower than 2013-14. The decrease is due to a higher proportion of customer contacts in the survey that have not yet been resolved. This change also had more impact on some companies compared to others.

The number of properties flooded from overflowing sewers decreased (from 2,190 in 2013-14 to 1,551 in 2014-15). Sewer flooding is an unpleasant occurrence and companies have explained what they doing to reduce the number of properties it affects. For example looking at their response times and the success of education schemes to keep sewers free of debris like cooking fat.

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. All companies’ performance was satisfactory in 2014-15. We took account of their performance in the three years 2011-12, 2012-13 and 2013-14 when we decided the prices that all companies can charge their customers during each of the five years between 2015-20. The poorest performers during 2010-15 were penalised and the best rewarded. Our action saw an overall net penalty of £79m.

For 2014-15 we piloted a new methodology for the SIM. Companies could choose whether to publish scores using either the old (2011-14) methodology or the new (2015-2020) methodology. Scores using the new methodology are not directly comparable to those using the old methodology and so we will not include 2014-15 SIM scores in our price setting process. We explain more about this in IN15/03: Guidance on collecting information for the service incentive mechanism from 1 April 2015. You can find out how the SIM works by reading our SIM factsheet. Our decisions about 2015-20 prices include our SIM performance-related rewards and penalties.

Customers were generally satisfied with the service they received in 2014-15. 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 decreased, companies are still taking action to further 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.

CompanySIM ScoreInternal sewer flooding incidentsWater supply interruptions
(hours per total properties served)
Anglian8511340.32
Dŵr Cymru821430.38
Northumbrian8411180.07
Severn Trent8331980.17
South West751430.38
Southern7911590.10
Thames7634430.19
United Utilities8122470.22
Wessex871450.30
Yorkshire8511210.16
Affinity Water7610.45
Bournemouth8810.04
Bristol8012.61
Dee Valley7810.17
Portsmouth8210.15
South East8210.13
South Staffordshire – Cambridge area8520.28
South Staffordshire – South Staffs area8520.11
Sutton & East Surrey8110.48

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
Grey means companies did not have to submit this data
1 means the company used the 2011-14 SIM weighting methodology
2 means  the company used the 2015-20 SIM weighting methodology
3 means the company did not publish a combined score so we have calculated one using the 2011-14 SIM weighting methodology