Four in 10 consumers would review water supplier in open market

Posted: Thursday 31st August 2017

Almost 40% of consumers say they would instantly review their water supplier if the market opened to competition in the near future, according to new research.

It has also been revealed that nearly half of consumers (48%) would favour switching to a single utility supplier covering their gas, electric and water, if it reduced their overall bill.

The findings, part of a major industry report by Echo Managed Services, found customer service frustrations to be a major reason for consumers to change their utility supplier; with 33% saying they switch for this reason, and 17% saying they would specifically switch water supplier because of poor service if they had the chance.

It also found that one in five consumers would review their water supplier within 12 months if the market opened tomorrow, to see if they could get a better deal.

One area the water market could struggle with, if it opens, is offering the levels of price incentive customers may expect, with Echo's report finding that 44% of consumers would only be enticed to switch if they could receive price savings of 20% or greater.

The news comes not long after the commercial water market opened to competition, with thousands of business customers having switched suppliers within the first few months, increasing pressure on companies to improve their offerings to gain a competitive edge.

Whilst the latest research from the Institute of Customer Service revealed that customer satisfaction in the utilities sector was at a nine year high, the sector still languishes behind ten other sectors in the findings. Water companies will, without doubt, be looking closely at their customer service strategies in the coming months, especially after Ofwat warned them they must up their game in the face of the new PR19 price review.

Chris Cullen, head of sales and marketing at Echo Managed Services, said: "These findings illustrate that there are aspects of service that can be improved and as water companies begin to prepare their business plans for PR19, customer service strategies will be a key priority. Looking towards best practice examples across multiple sectors could help companies to innovate and provide the kind of leading customer service that many consumers now expect.

"It may be a long time before the consumer water market opens to competition, if indeed it does, but with Ofwat placing more focus on customer service as part of PR19 we can expect to see customer service innovations in the sector and companies making this a real priority in the near future."

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August 2021

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