A recent report published in the Powys County Times warns Welsh residents of high water consumption increases over the last 12 months. According to the article, households in the area are using on average 16 per cent more water than the previous year, and warns that customers could see their water bills increase as a result. More worrying is Dwr Cymru/Welsh Water’s consumption data for 2020, which reveals that water usage by its customers increased by a staggering 25 per cent throughout the year. We take a look at the problem, and how Advizzo’s customer engagement platform and solutions can help Welsh customers to reduce their water consumption and their bills.
Why water consumption increased
The increased water usage in the area can be attributed to multiple factors including changing washing habits as a result of the pandemic. As well as more time spent working from home and home-schooling, the fine weather we were treated to across the UK throughout the spring and summer last year, saw a significant increase in use of hosepipes, sprinklers, paddling pools and hot tubs. Indeed, hot tub sales are reported to have risen by 1080% on eBay1.
Since April last year Welsh Water ramped up its support to customers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, temporarily adding over 330,000 customers to its Priority Services Register, while also arranging flexible payment plans for household customers struggling to pay their water bills2.
Now, in a further bid to support customers and help keep bills as low as possible, Welsh Water is urging the public to take steps to conserve water, with suggestions including wrapping pipes to avoid bursts, fixing leaks, as well as making small daily changes such as turning off the tap while brushing teeth or flushing the loo one less time a day. The supplier is also encouraging its customers to sign up to its online My Account service, where they can view their upcoming payments online and keep track of their bills.
Sam James, Managing Director of Household Customer Services at Welsh Water, said:
“Taking steps to be more water efficient can have a real impact on the amount of water a home uses and can bring down the cost of your water bill. Small changes to your behaviour, like not leaving the tap running while brushing your teeth or spending one less minute in the shower, really do add up over time.” He added “It’s been an incredibly difficult year for all of us and we know many people are facing a tough time financially. If anyone is struggling with their water charges, we strongly encourage them to get in touch with us. We have schemes and social tariffs available to help make bills more affordable.”
As a company specialising in customer engagement solutions for water and utility suppliers, we recognise that encouraging customer interaction and engagement can go a long way to helping customers reduce their consumption and bills. However, a 25% consumption increase is a very significant hike, and with no sign for a return to the workplace any time soon, water companies will need to go further in their efforts to help customers reduce consumption in order to prevent significant bill increases.
How customer engagement and behavioural science can help
With the inevitable increase in customer consumption due the pandemic, and more customers are in vulnerable positions, it’s never been more important for suppliers to proactively engage directly with their customers, and to offer advice and assistance.
A behavioural science based customer engagement programme can help. Using data science and behavioural science techniques to communicate insights and advice directly to individual customers, to help them understand their household consumption and behaviours and to motivate them to reduce their consumption through personalised tips and advice. Read more about how it works.
A customer engagement program can also specifically help water suppliers identify and support their vulnerable customers. You can read more about this in our blog “How Advizzo provides proactive support for vulnerable customers”. You might also like to read our blog “Engaging with customers through a time of crisis – lesson from lockdown” where we look at four ways that suppliers can enhance their customer engagement.
Here at Advizzo we work with energy companies and water suppliers to improve their customer engagement and help them meet consumption reduction goals. Take a look at some of the results that we have achieved for water companies across the UK and across the globe as a result of engagement and intervention:
Customer satisfaction increased up to 23 points (South East Water)
3x more customers engaging in additional water efficiency programmes (South East Water)
Customer intelligence gathering increased by 90% for people coming on line leading to improved personalised insights in future communications (Anglian Water)
87% took action to reduce consumption (DEWA – electricity and water authority in the Middle East)
“By using Advizzo’s behavioural science based solution, our call agents have greater insight into how to deal with different types of calls as they come in. With the customer data and insights immediately to hand we can quickly and efficiently deal with the enquiry, which not only reduces the length of the call and the need for any follow-up contact, but provides an improved service and greater customer satisfaction.” South East Water call agent