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Customers and the water industry: how the next decade will unfold

On 14 June, representatives from the UK water industry gathered at The Crystal on Royal Victoria Dock, London to attend Capita’s first ever Water Industry Event 2017.

With Ofwat (the Water Services Regulation Authority) preparing to kick-start the consultation process for the pricing period 2020-25 next month, the timing couldn’t have been more perfect.

The agenda focused on some of the issues and challenges expected over the next pricing period (PR19). Context and expectations for the day were set by Steve Johnson MBE, formerly non-executive director of South West Water and now a member of the Advisory Board for the Water Industry in Scotland. Steve highlighted the challenges faced by everyone in the room, including the need for a greater emphasis on the customer journey, the increased expectation for water companies to take on social responsibilities, and the need to look beyond the water sector for best practice in service.

John Ashley, associate director of Ofwat, then delivered a thorough summary and appraisal of the scope and themes of PR19. This included whether the ‘future’ Service Incentive Mechanism (SIM) should incentivise companies to improve their overall service to customers. Also considered is assessing the quality of service given to customers who have not recently been in contact with their provider, how information from other sectors can be used to inform ‘future SIM’, and whether a separate ‘reputational’ rather than financial incentive can be incorporated.

Following a lively panel session which reviewed and discussed the themes covered in the first part of the agenda, it was then over to CCA Global CEO Anne Marie Forsyth to turn the spotlight onto the topic of customer experience and other industry sectors suffering similar challenges. Anne Marie is expertly placed to assess the challenges facing the UK water industry in terms of meeting the expectations of customers who have grown accustomed to best practice treatment by brands such as Amazon, Virgin and Apple.

After a second stimulating panel session, Capita’s own Damian Biswell completed the formal keynote presentations by explaining how O2 transformed their business by developing and adopting a blended channel approach making fullest use of emerging digital capabilities. Damian’s presentation emphasised changes in consumer behaviour and illustrated how the UK water industry has the unique opportunity to re-shape itself based on the experience of other mainstream market sectors. By adopting an omni-channel approach O2 have been able to improve the customer contact experience, elevate self-serve and reduce root cause query drivers.

Following a morning of presentations, lively debate and the opportunity to review and reflect on what PR19 may bring, the main speakers brought the event to a close in a final panel session. The main aspects of PR19 can be referenced in a Capita white paper released exclusively at the event and available on our Capita Customer Management website:  ‘Five Years of Challenge and Change’.

Photo of Ken Wheeler

Ken Wheeler

Business development director, Capita Customer Management

During more than 20 years in the BPO industry Ken has helped develop and implement solutions for leading brands such as British Gas, Mercedes-Benz, npower, Nestle, Pitney Bowes, Sage, Shell and Unilever. During that time he has held senior positions for onshore and offshore service providers in the UK and South Africa including Arise Virtual Solutions, Sitel, RR Donnelley and Merchants/Dimension Data as well as senior sales leadership and delivery roles with Capgemini and KPMG in London.

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