In order to build and maintain trust and confidence in the water industry, Ofwat is asking water companies explicitly to set out how they will look after vulnerable customers in their PR19 business plans for 2020 to 2025. The industry regulator wants to see companies evidence how they will provide sensitive, well-designed and flexible services to these customers.
The word ‘vulnerable’ has broad meaning and relates to customers in various circumstances and often means these customers are not physically able to travel to a bottled water handout location whether it be through disability, short-term or long-term illness, or due to age. Ofwat expects companies to collect good-quality data, identify and thoroughly understand these customers and engage with third parties to provide appropriate support.
For example, water companies are working with local authorities to encourage customers to register for priority services. In doing so these customers receive advance warning of planned work which may interrupt the usual water supply and priority treatment during an unplanned interruption.
With over 23 years’ experience of providing planned and emergency water services nationwide, Water Direct is uniquely positioned and committed to the needs of water utilities in supporting these customers. We work with water utilities to develop innovative solutions designed to meet the needs of their customers, and the challenges posed by all types of geographic areas from rural to city-centre locations.
We’re here to help deliver exceptional customer service, demonstrate commitment to Ofwat’s expectations of PR19 business plans and meet the diverse needs of household water customers.
With alternative water supply solutions in place for immediate deployment nationwide, these can be delivered swiftly to those who experience an interruption to the mains supply. In addition to public water stations and bulk deployments, we are now increasingly providing door-to-door delivery services to many of our clients nationwide.
Where these customers are listed on a priority customer register, Water Direct will work with the utility company using up-to-date and compliant data, to plan, coordinate and hand-deliver alternative water supplies, providing timely and accurate updates on progress.
In an ever-changing social media landscape, customers expect prompt, visible and effective action. We will organise and manage hand-delivery of alternative water supply solutions to those customers who may not be able to get to a handout location due to reduced mobility, illness, lack of transport or means to carry water back to their homes. We work with our partners to reassure and reinforce a positive PR message and signpost customers to our client’s customer service teams as required.
Industry-wide collaboration and beyond
We work with water companies and other stakeholders in the industry to actively develop solutions, to test and exercise these, and provide feedback and onward training in the interest of continually developing best practice.
We work with partners such as the British Red Cross, local resilience partners and the emergency services to develop ways of distributing alternative water supplies to affected members of the community.
Senior Contract Manager Rob Allan comments, “Doorstep deliveries are one of the most frequently requested alternative water supply services that Water Direct offers. In 2018 we made around 20,000 deliveries to vulnerable customers on behalf of water utilities.
Delivering a high level of customer service remains at the forefront of priorities for the water utility industry. When approaching doorstep deliveries, it’s important to have scalable and flexible solutions in place to be able to support vulnerable customers during incidents large or small.
By engaging with a specialist alternative water supplier like Water Direct, water utility companies can ensure an effective doorstep delivery service.
Alongside courtesy water collection locations, water tanker deliveries, network injections, static tank, bowser and water-in-a-box deployment services available, doorstep deliveries are an effective aspect of Water Direct’s suite of alternative water supply solutions.”