Engaging with customers to keep improving performance
14 July 2017

A focus on customer engagement and satisfaction leading to a 30 per cent reduction in complaints and investment of more than £89million in projects to improve the water infrastructure are just some of the highlights from South East Water’s review of the year.

South East Water today (14 July) published its Performance, People and Planet Report for 2016/17 - alongside an independent report from the Customer Challenge Group for South East Water, giving its assessment of how the company has performed. 

To read the reports visit southeastwater.co.uk/reporting17.

The Performance, People and Planet Report sets out how the company has performed on a range of measures to make sure customers are receiving a good level of service and the impact it has on the environment and community in which it works.

Paul Butler, Managing Director of South East Water, said: “Every day our employees are engaging with customers and feeding their views back into the business to help us keep improving, we are driven by our ongoing commitment to deliver a five-out-of-five service to everyone we serve.
“We are pleased to have raised our game again this year, with customer complaints falling by 30 per cent compared to the prior year, meaning we have seen a 76 per cent reduction over a three year period. This is excellent progress, but we want to go further and we know that talking with our customers throughout the year is the best way to keep driving improvements, as we listen to their feedback.”
South East Water’s performance during the year include:

• Customer complaints down for the fifth year in a row

• Visiting more than 17,000 customers through the Customer Care Team to give advice and help on charges and additional services that are available

• Recognition at the Rushlight Sustainable Agriculture, Forestry and Biodiversity Award for its innovative work with farmers and Natural England to help improve the water quality of rivers

• Producing high quality drinking water, with 99.95 per cent of all samples complying with UK Drinking Water Regulations

• Launching an online account for customers of which 35,000 people have already signed up for the service

• Beating the leakage target despite challenging weather leading to an increased number of bursts

Customers helped South East Water to set 25 performance commitments for the period from 2015 to 2020 ranging from leakage levels and water pressure, through to the number of burst water mains and compliance with environmental legislation. These commitments are designed to deliver what is important to customers in the most cost effective way.

Of the 14 output measures that have targets for this year, 11 were within the company’s acceptable levels or better than target and three were narrowly missed.

South East Water has led the way in customer engagement being the first water company to introduce an innovative range of commitments based on how satisfied customers are. As this is a new approach the targets set are stretching. While the company didn’t meet satisfaction targets this year, it has shown an improvement on 2015/16, up from 4.15 to 4.28 out of five as an average across seven measures and is also on track to achieve its ambition of 80 per cent of customers considering bills to be value for money by 2020.

The report is accompanied by a report from the Customer Challenge Group for South East Water.  This is an independent group, whose role is to monitor South East Water’s performance and provide challenge to other business-as-usual activities.

The Group’s Chair, Zoe McLeod, said today: “South East Water’s improvement in customer satisfaction and reduction in complaints is to be applauded, but we are also aware that the company is not complacent in this area, and knows there is scope for further improvements in customer service and more generally.

“We challenge the company to engage with and listen to their diverse consumers, and to reflect those views in the decisions they make. This includes important decisions in their upcoming business plan for 2020-25 on the environment, levels of service, support for customers with additional needs, and how much customers should pay for their water. If you would like to share your views, please get in touch at challengegroup.co.uk.

“We welcome the willingness of South East Water to be open to feedback and engage with the Group and explore the ideas suggested through our robust and candid discussions. I would like to thank my fellow Challenge Group members for their ongoing work and we will continue to provide constructive challenge on behalf of customers throughout the coming year and look forward to the year ahead.”

South East Water supplies around 521 million litres of water a day to 2.2 million people in the South East of England.