Severn Trent Water - A renewed approach to customer engagement




As part of PR19, Ofwat asked the three fast track companies to share their behind the scenes insight into the development of their business plans for 2020-25. 

Shane Anderson, Head of Economic Regulation at Severn Trent Water gives his insight below.

When we started developing our PR19 plan, we took a very different approach to customer engagement.

At previous price reviews we’d become pretty adept at engaging customers on our issues – the trade-offs we need to make – and making sure that we reflected their views in our decisions, more of an inside out approach. But for PR19, with the full support of our Customer Challenge Group, we decided to try something different: an outside-in approach that aimed to get right to the heart of our customers’ needs.

This early engagement first explored what mattered to our customers in the context of their lives. We then progressively explored how we as a water company can contribute to this. From this we developed the concept of a hierarchy of needs (admittedly borrowed from Maslow) that ranged from very functional needs at the bottom to what really drives customers’ trust in companies at the top.

To understand this hierarchy better, we used research that asked difficult questions, like why some customers are cynical towards private business and how they see our role as a corporate citizen in the context of other companies. And we learned that we needed to show our customers more about why we come to work and the difference to their lives we want to make.

As a result, in our plan, you’ll see a renewed focus on our social purpose. This includes a suite of performance commitments – like green communities or collaborative flood resilience – that drive us to change how we deliver our service so that we can create wider community benefits.  It also includes a commitment to give more back – our community dividend includes charitable donations to the Severn Trent Trust Fund, employee volunteering and a new initiative to create a community fund from 1% of profits.

We’re really looking forward to delivering on our promises and making a very real difference to the communities and customers we serve.