Young and worried woman is waiting for a last drop of water hangs from a tap with glass under water shortage struck by drought .Water shortage and drought crisis with global warming

We all probably take our water supply and sewage services for granted now and again, happy to just turn on the tap or flush the toilet when we need to without giving it too much thought.

But what happens if something goes wrong with these services?  Most of us probably don’t need to contact our water company unless there is an issue, but when there is, that is the time when people need help the most, as water is essential to the quality of all our lives.

CCW is continually working with water companies on behalf of consumers to help improve the service they get. To help us with this we have teamed up with Ofwat, the water regulator, on joint research to understand customers’ experiences when things go wrong with their water services, and how well they feel companies have handled these incidents.

Hearing from customers

The research, being conducted by research agency Blue Marble, will hear from people about their experiences during a water supply issue or when there’s a sewage incident. We want to understand the event from a customer’s perspective and to hear about the support, help, and communication they received from their company. This information will help us to understand what worked well, the kinds of problems customers faced and what they feel could be improved.

Over the next few months, Blue Marble will be talking to customers about a range of incidents including; water supply interruptions, low water pressure or water quality issues, to sewage flooding in homes or gardens, and covering small to large-scale incidents that last from a few hours to days or even weeks.

We will explore how customers found their company’s response to the incident, considering that different customers will have different needs when things don’t go to plan. We will find out how well information and support was provided by companies when their services weren’t working normally, how this met people’s needs, or if extra help was needed.

This research will be really valuable in the work we’re doing with companies to make sure that customers get the help and support they need if there is a problem with their water or sewerage supply and that the needs of customers are put first.

CCW and Ofwat will publish findings as we go along. We want to make sure that any learnings are available quickly, including any good practice that can be shared with water companies.

Sharing the findings

Both Ofwat and CCW will use this research to inform their wider project work. This includes Ofwat’s introduction of a new customer-focused licence condition – all water companies have terms and conditions they must stick to – Ofwat plan to add to this with a new customer-focused licence condition, which will set out the principles they must follow when delivering their services to customers. The research will also help CCW develop the work we are doing to understand how people are supported during and after incidents.

If you have any questions about this project or would like to share information about an incident, you can email [email protected]

More information about Ofwat’s wider customer research programme can be found on the Ofwat website.

To find out about CCW’s current research, please visit our publications page.