The 5Cs of Customer Communication in the water sector
Water is an essential resource for all citizens, and in the UK the water sector operates in five-year regulatory cycles called Asset Management Plans or AMPs as they are more commonly known. These plans aim to maintain and improve the assets, services, customer engagement, and financial performance of all of the providers in the water sector. As AMP7 comes to an end in 2025, water companies are already looking ahead to AMP8 and preparing their business plans for submission to Ofwat. These plans will have even more ambitious performance targets and will require water companies to have an even stronger focus on customer outcomes which deliver tangible benefits to their customers.
In this blog post, we will explore how water companies can prioritise customer service and drive increased engagement by improving the digital customer experience using what we like to call the ‘5Cs of Customer Communication’ for the Water Sector.
Key Customer-Focused Themes in AMP8
Customer engagement will obviously be a clear priority for the UK water companies as they prepare the five-year business plans for AMP8 that each of them will be submitting to Ofwat later this year. A number of key customer-focused themes have been identified by the regulator (see below) and we believe that having a reliable digital communication partner will be key to delivering against these key areas of focus for innovation and change within the water sector.
The 5 C’s for the Water Sector
We have worked across the water sector for a number of years and have built up a library of digital customer journeys that address the specific communication needs of the sector – we like to group these core capabilities together under the banner of the 5Cs of Customer Communication.
The first, and most important, C is the customer. While customers may not have a choice in their water provider based on their postcode, their opinions and experiences still matter. Water companies should prioritise customer service and customer experience (CX) to improve customer satisfaction and prevent negative feedback on social media. In the past, water companies may have received bad press for inadequate customer service and poor handling of complaints and supply issues. By making the customer the focal point of their business, water companies can establish trust and positive relationships with their customers. This can enhance public perception and result in greater customer satisfaction. Moreover, by prioritising the customer experience and delivering high-quality service, water companies are likely to receive more positive C-Mex ratings – C-Mex is the Customer Measure of Experience metric which was introduced by Ofwat to measure customer satisfaction and the perception of water companies in the UK..
The new regulations demand that water companies communicate proactively and effectively with their customers to educate and inform them on key topics of interest. A single, centralised communication platform will enable organisations to deliver automated, professionally branded communications across multiple channels, including digital and print. Plus, with the ability to leverage QR codes, customers can be supported to switch to digital communication options which can reduce costs and help to meet sustainability targets.
In today’s data-driven world, capturing and utilising data effectively is key to success. By collecting and analysing data on customer behaviour, preferences, and needs, companies can gain valuable insights that can inform their decision-making and provide evidence of real customer engagement. For example, data can be used to identify areas where customer service can be improved or to develop new products and services that better meet customer needs. Water companies should invest in systems and processes that enable them to capture and store customer data securely, complying with all data protection regulations.
The example below shows a data capture form used by Portsmouth Water to successfully deliver on Ofwat’s regulatory requirements relating to the Priority Service Register. Using a purely digital approach Portsmouth Water were able to exceed their engagement targets and to confirm the ongoing needs and requirements of their most vulnerable customers.
Consulting with customers is a crucial aspect of success in the water sector. By actively seeking feedback from customers on their experiences and needs, water companies can gain valuable insights into how to improve their services and products. This can help increase customer satisfaction and trust, as well as drive growth and innovation. Digital solutions for Consultation can take many forms, including surveys, questionnaires and online forums. Companies can use these feedback mechanisms to gather information on a range of topics, from customer service to water quality. It’s also important for companies to maintain records of their consultations with customers and evidence of how they are acting on customer feedback, so customers can see that their opinions are valued and their needs are being addressed.
The final C stands for Collections which emphasises the importance of efficiently collecting overdue bills as a crucial factor for success in the water sector. Effective debt management can help water companies invest in critical infrastructure and ensure that they can continue to provide high-quality services to their customers. By ensuring that Billing and Collections processes are efficient and effective, companies can reduce both the number of outstanding bills and the overall amount of overdue debt that has to be collected. This can be achieved through a range of initiatives, such as implementing digital billing and payment solutions or offering customers flexible payment options.
The Expert View
“As the water sector increasingly looks to adopt digital technologies to meet the regulatory requirements of AMP8, there is a significant opportunity for companies to improve their customer communication process. By using targeted messaging and automated alerts, water companies can ensure that all customers receive timely and relevant information about their services, I would very much hope that this technology becomes the norm for AMP8 and beyond…an agile approach is needed.
This technology improves customer satisfaction, builds trust and enhances the overall customer experience”
Lee Horrocks – FCIWEM & FloW, Water Sector Strategic Advisor
Be SMART about Customer Communication
CustomerMinds has developed a SMART approach to customer communication to help businesses succeed in regulatory markets by providing a personalised and engaging customer experience. The SMART approach is built around our vision that modern customer communication should be Secure, Measurable, Automated, Responsive, and Targeted.
Our cloud-based Which50 platform is ISO 27001 certified, providing the highest level of security to protect customer data against unauthorised access and data breaches. The centralised platform includes ‘No-Code’ tools to design engaging digital journeys, automate key workflows and create hyper-personalised and targeted communications using sophisticated but easy-to-use data segmentation. The Which50 platform also includes advanced analytics and reporting tools to optimise the communication strategy over time, resulting in stronger, more trusting relationships with customers.
Conclusion – Time to AMP up customer communication in the UK Water Sector
In conclusion, the upcoming AMP8 business plan submissions in October will require water companies to demonstrate how they are prioritising customer experience. As customer engagement becomes increasingly important, SMART digital solutions will be crucial in helping companies meet the objectives set out by Ofwat, the UK water regulator. The Which50 platform from CustomerMinds, empowers organisations to achieve their customer engagement goals, build lasting relationships with their customers, improve operational efficiency, and reduce costs. With our SMART approach, you can stay ahead of the curve and succeed in today’s challenging market. Contact us today to learn how we can help your business achieve its customer engagement objectives and meet the requirements of AMP8.
If you would like to find out how the Which50 platform can help digitise your customer experience, please fill out the form below to receive our monthly newsletter or contact us for more information.