Between 2019-20 to 2020-21 there has been an 11% increase in written complaints to water companies, which is the 3rd year running where an increase in complaints has been recorded. This figure is skewed however, almost half of the water companies saw their complaints fall – however the volume of complaints received to Thames Water tipped the balance.
What are customers complaining about most?
Billing. Billing is leading the way with 67% of queries. To put this into context, that’s 63,083 of the 93,758 total complaints.
Let’s take a closer look
Customers who complained about their bills refer to the estimation of bills, disputing how much water had been used and how the water company had handled their recovery of debt.
It’s no surprise that the landscape has changed and that there are several factors in play which contributed to the increase in billing complaints. The pandemic saw a huge surge in people moving away from their normal workspaces to continue their business, where they could, from a home setting. For many, this saw additional pressure on their finances.
Research conducted by CCW , saw that 1 in 4 householders have seen their finances worsen since the pandemic struck. Coupled with hotter and dryer summer which was unusual for the UK saw a spike in consumption and water companies pulling back on non-critical operations such as meter reads – this has all compounded to an increase in usage with unawareness and many customers being in financial difficulty.
What steps should be taken?
CCW have issued previously best practice guidance in which they outline the steps water companies should take to reduce billing complaints. Examples of these steps are to be pro-active in communicating to customers ahead of possible unexpectedly high bills to outline the possible reasons for the increase.
Here at Revive, we’re helping the water industry in their proactive approach to customers communications. Working closely with the water companies within our partnership, we’ve been able to assist with communications from conception of the customer right through to the closing of the account, where fit, final billing. Understanding the water customer and their current status is paramount to ensure that the right message, at the right time and through the right channel is being shared with the customer.
How do you make pro-active communications effective?
That’s why we’ve developed a suite of solutions which work hand-in-hand with CCW’s recommendations.
Vulnerability risk factors are present across the whole customer lifecycle, by introducing sensitive, proactive engagement, your water company can rely on bespoke solution that’s both secure and maintains compliance with industry regulations. With RevivePriority, you will be able to deliver personalised communications via a range of channels allowing your business to improve customer trust & enhance engagement
Specially designed to support finance teams, including Collections, Recoveries and Debt Reconciliations, ReviveCollect allows you to create personalised customer journeys, based on criteria specific to your business. From due date reminders to self-serve payment options, our sophisticated platform allows to you manage the whole payment cycle from early or pre-payment to arrears and promise-to-pay functionality.