These companies are responsible for providing a continuous supply of clean water of adequate pressure to all customers in an agreed geographical area. Currently customers in the UK are unable to switch from one supplier to another, with water rates controlled by independent regulator Ofwat.
Similar to the electric and gas industry, water companies have come under close scrutiny from the British public, where a lack of competition, increasing water rates, record breaking fines for leakages and poor investment in modern complaints and customer service processes have added to a growing dissatisfaction and frustration amongst UK consumers. These same consumers are turning to social media channels to vent their frustrations and ask for help.
Last week the Consumer Council for Water published their annual report on Consumer Complaints. Despite water companies receiving over 2m+ contacts last year from customers, there was a clear trend towards an overall decline in the number of written complaints and unwanted telephone contacts being made to water companies over the last 7 years, since 2010.
Written complaints and unwanted contacts fall since 2010
With this significant fall in both written complaints and the number of issues having to be dealt with over the phone, customers are increasingly turning to social media to seek help, so we decided to take a close look at how the UK’s Water & Sewerage companies perform for customer service on Twitter.
UK Water & Sewerage Social Customer Service Performance
Over the last quarter, the UK’s water and sewerage suppliers received 27,612 direct mentions to their help handles on Twitter.
Source: www.helphandles.com 01/07/2017–26/09/2017
Water & Sewerage Suppliers Customer Service Performance on Twitter 01/07/2017–26/09/2017
Severn Trent Water & Anglian Water ranked as the best overall performers for customer service on Twitter, with the best aggregate score* across inbound volume, response rate, responses under 30 mins and sentiment amongst customers, followed by Yorkshire Water and Scottish Water.
*Accounts are programmatically scored out of 100 on our performance index across 4 metrics. Inbound mention volumes (25%), Response Rate (25%), Responses under 30 mins (25%) and Sentiment (25%). All metrics are available and updated every hour on HelpHandles.com
The worst performers for customer service on Twitter were Southern Water, Northumbrian Water, and Wessex Water.
Best Overall Performers
- Severn Trent
- Anglian Water
- Yorkshire Water Help
- Thames Water
- Welsh Water
- Northumbrian Water
- Southern Water
Thames Water & Severn Trent Water were the fastest to respond to customers with a 32 min and 33 min first response between (July — Sept 17). Southern Water were the slowest to respond with a first response of 6 hrs 15 mins
Thames Water: 32 min
Severen Trent: 33 min
Scottish Water: 59 min
Yorkshire Water Help: 1 hr 18 min
Anglian Water: 1 hr 26 min
Welsh Water: 1 hr 59 min
Northumbrian Water: 2 hr 8 min
Wessex Water: 2 hr 10 min
United Utilities: 3 hr 27 min
Southern Water: 6 hr 15 min
Similarly, Severn Trent and Thames Water maintained the fastest response on average with 28 mins and 33 min respectively, while Southern Water were the slowest on average with a 5hr 58min response time.
Severen Trent: 29 min
Thames Water: 30 min
Scottish Water: 1 hr 4 min
Yorkshire Water Help: 1 hr 11 min
Anglian Water: 1 hr 16 min
Wessex Water: 2 hr 1 min
Northumbrian Water: 2 hr 4 min
Welsh Water: 2 hr 50 min
United Utilities: 3 hr 19 min
Southern Water: 5 hr 58 min
Thames Water were the busiest water company for customer service on Twitter receiving a total of 8,837 mentions between July — Sept 17 period, while Wessex Water received the lowest amount of mentions with just 546 mentions.
Thames Water: 8,837
United Utilities: 4,867
Severn Trent: 3,832
Anglian Water: 2,626
Scottish Water: 2,117
Welsh Water: 1,552
Southern Water: 1,330
Yorkshire Water Help: 1,116
Northumbrian Water: 789
Wessex Water: 546
Scottish Water were the most responsive to customers on Twitter answering 93% of mentions to their Twitter handle, together with Yorkshire Water, Severn Trent and Anglian Water they were the only companies who achieved a sub +50% response rate. All other water companies responded to less than -50% of mentions, with Wessex Water performing the worst with just 24% of mentions replied to between July — September 17.
Scottish Water: 93%
Yorkshire Water Help: 65%
Severn Trent: 54%
Anglian Water: 53%
Thames Water: 46%
United Utilities: 44%
Welsh Water: 37%
Northumbrian Water: 37%
Southern Water: 31%
Wessex Water: 24%
Responses under 30mins
Yorkshire Water and Thames Water had the highest percentage of mentions responded to in under 30 mins followed closely by Severn Trent Water, Scottish Water and Anglian Water.
Yorkshire Water Help: 79%
Thames Water: 79%
Severn Trent: 78%
Scottish Water: 76%
Anglian Water: 75%
Northumbrian Water: 66%
Wessex Water: 63%
Welsh Water: 53%
United Utilities: 52%
Southern Water: 38%
Anglian Water were the outstanding performers over the July — Sept 17 period with the highest sentiment score of +20 points amongst conversations with customers on Twitter. United Utilities and Thames Water scored the lowest for sentiment.
Anglian Water Sentiment Report +20
Access over 650+ brands sentiment reports on HelpHandles.com
Yorkshire Water Help: +15
Welsh Water: +13
Wessex Water: +12
Severn Trent: +7
Scottish Water: +5
Northumbrian Water: +5
Southern Water: +5
Thames Water: +2
United Utilities: –
…supply from 8am & we expect to have work complete and supplies restored by 11am.
— Anglian Water (@AnglianWater) September 27, 2017
You’re welcome, sorry for the disruption caused, hopefully we’ll not need to keep anyone off water for long. Have a good day.
— Anglian Water (@AnglianWater) September 27, 2017
Thanks Esther. We’ve got a tech on the way to that now. Sorry for the inconvenience and thanks again.
— Anglian Water (@AnglianWater) September 23, 2017
You’re welcome Danielle. Thanks Dan
— Severn Trent (@stwater) August 31, 2017
The recent complaints report published by the Consumer Council for Water shows a direct correlation of the rise and impact of mobile messaging channels for customer service and digital communications.
Customer service on mobile messaging channels is more convenient for customers and cheaper and more efficient to support than legacy channels like phone, email and if I have to say it snail mail. 🐌 📬
Written complaints fall by 11%
For the first time in more than 20 years, fewer than 100,000 written complaints were received by the water companies of England and Wales. In total, companies received 95,274 written complaints, an 11% fall on the previous year and a continuation of the downward trend seen since the peak year of 2007–08 when over 273,000 written complaints were made against water companies.
In a heavy regulated industry, change can be slow, and innovation can be even slower. But with consumers currently frustrated with existing legacy processes and the rise in the adoption of more convenient mobile messaging channels, water companies are now having to embrace the new world to improve the overall customer experience and bring customer service into the 21st century.