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We have continued to develop our systems and processes to deliver the experience our customers seek when they need to contact us

75%

Reduction in customer complaints over the 2010-15 period.

Significant operational improvements providing a solid platform for the next five years

Our focus on improving customer service

Great customer service relies on understanding what our customers need, anticipating problems, resolving complaints quickly and courteously and developing new, innovative services that fit into people’s busy lifestyles. We want our customers to trust us and have confidence in our service.

Over the last five years, we have continued to develop our systems and processes to deliver the experience our customers seek when they need to contact us, including multi-channel contact centre technology. We have placed a strong emphasis on striving for first time resolution of customer enquiries, keeping customers informed of progress until resolution. This has been underpinned by investment in our people in terms of better training and improved systems. We have enhanced our customer feedback process to help us respond to customers’ evolving needs and continuously improve.

The introduction of the service incentive mechanism (SIM) as a measure of customer satisfaction over this regulatory period has provided us with a strong benchmark of water industry comparative performance. SIM results sit alongside our other, ongoing, research on customer expectations and satisfaction.

Customer Satisfaction Improvement

Key achievements to date include:

  • We were the most improved water and wastewater company as measured under Ofwat’s three-year SIM assessment from 2011/12 to 2013/14 (the chart above shows how we have moved from just above the worst performer to just below the best performer). As well as benefiting customers, this improved performance also resulted in us avoiding a revenue penalty of up to c£80 million in Ofwat’s final determination;
  • Customer complaints reduced by approximately 75 per cent over the 2010-15 period;
  • Complaints warranting investigation by the Consumer Council for Water (CCW) reduced from 63 in 2010/11 to zero in 2012/13 and 2013/14 and two in 2014/15;
  • We are consistently third behind only John Lewis and Marks & Spencer on the customer service brand tracker measure out of 10 leading service providers in the North West;
  • Awarded ‘Best Utility’ in the Top 50 Contact Centre Awards and received the ‘Service to the Water Industry’ award presented by the House Builders Federation; and
  • We are one of the leading water retailers in Scotland despite only entering the market in 2012/13.

Other operational improvements

We have been working hard to improve our performance in achieving statutory compliance and on-time delivery of schemes contributing to water quality and environmental improvement.

Highlights include:

  • Delivered stable asset serviceability performance or better on all four water and wastewater measures for 2013/14 and 2014/15, avoiding a potential serviceability penalty of tens of millions of pounds;
  • Upper quartile sector performance on Ofwat’s annual key performance indicators and on the Environment Agency’s assessment of water and wastewater companies 2013/14;
  • Met or outperformed annual leakage targets in each of the last nine years;
  • Efficiency improvements in delivering our capital programme allowed us to reinvest over £200 million of savings into projects which improve services to customers or benefit the environment; and
  • Sustainable operating cost efficiencies have helped us to exceed our outperformance target of £50 million over 2010–15 against our allowed operating costs. This was in addition to efficiency targets set by Ofwat of approximately £150 million over the five years.

Efficiency improvements in delivering our capital programme allowed us to reinvest over £200 million of savings into projects which improve services to customers or benefit the environment

Financing outperformance

Our treasury function has continued to deliver a good performance, raising debt at better rates than allowed by the regulator, and we exceeded our financing outperformance target of £300 million across the 2010–15 period.

Overall, we are pleased with the significant progress we have made over the last five years, although we know that we still have plenty more to do.

Shareholder returns

Over the 2010-15 period, we have delivered a strong total shareholder return (TSR) of 115 per cent, outperforming the market. A longer term view of our TSR relative to the FTSE 100 is shown in the Annual report on remuneration.