Our customers are helping us understand what matters

Our ‘What matters to you’ online public workshops and focus groups were held right across our service region.

In the workshops, we asked customers to think about their past experiences, what they felt about us at this moment in time and what their expectations are for the future.

What does a water retailer look like in 2030, what are we doing differently, what new things do we need to do more of and what things should we reduce or stop doing?

What the customers we spoke to said

What delighted them

They told us customer experience was a strength of ours, specifically, they were delighted when we responded quickly and efficiently to water leaks, emergency works and complaints, and when we provided friendly, helpful and professional customer service and were easy to deal with. Other things that delighted them included;

  • Their service being reliable
  • Bills being easy to understand and affordable
  • Notifying them when their water was disrupted
  • Providing bill payment options such as payment plans and extensions, concession card discounts
  • Offering financial help by reducing their bills after a leak
  • Providing high-quality drinking water
  • Not giving them a reason to call us
  • Using our app to check for leaks and updates 
  • Showing up at community events they attend.
What disappointed them

Charging too much, making billing errors and not providing discounts or reimbursements, and not providing enough information about their bill and water usage, or where we spend money were most often mentioned as something they have been disappointed with. Other things that disappointed them included;

  • Not notifying customers about water supply interruptions and inconveniencing them
  • Providing poor customer service, not following up or apologising
  • Responding slowly to water leaks, complaints and emergency works
  • Providing poor quality water and an inconsistent supply.
What they expect us to do, and not do

Customers said they expect South East Water to focus on providing accurate and affordable bills, and financial support when they need it and to incentivise them and help them to save water. They also expect us to;

  • Provide high quality drinking water
  • Provide good customer service, being responsive, efficient and professional
  • Create online tools that help them monitor usage, access and pay bills, and get help and offer smart meters and real-time notifications
  • Ensure a sustainable, secure water supply
  • Provide a breakdown of our charges, and more information about where our money is spent
  • Notify them when we’re going to disrupt their water supply
  • Protect the environment and consider climate change  
  • Engage with the community and our stakeholders
  • Offer flexible pricing and allow customers to choose their water provider
  • Not privatise.

Customers were clear that they expect us not to increase prices or have high fixed charges, or be unreliable and inconvenience them. They also expect us not to;

  • Make information hard to find or understand
  • Reduce water quality standards
  • Privatise
  • Do things outside of scope for a utility company
  • Send jobs or manufacturing offshore
  • Be the only choice of provider.
What we need to do more or less of in the future

When looking to the future and talking about what we should be doing in 2030, customers in these workshops said they expect us to provide education around water use and provide devices and tools to help them to save water. They also see us;

  • Ensuring a sustainable, secure water supply
  • Doing more to protect the environment and waterways, to reduce the impact of climate change and to implement more sustainability initiatives
  • Increasing supply of recycled and desalinated water
  • Create online tools that help them monitor usage, access and pay bills, and get help and offer smart meters and real-time notifications
  • Providing more transparency on the bill and keeping bills affordable
  • Engaging with the community and stakeholders more
  • Providing high quality drinking water
  • Maintaining current customer service levels
  • Not privatising.

Customers want to see us sending less paper bills and communications, and don’t want us to reduce water quality standards. They also want to see less;

  • Unplanned and emergency works
  • Reducing of customer service standards
  • Price increases
  • Confusing bills and charges
  • Automating or outsourcing of jobs
  • Physical meter readings.
How they want to participate in decision making on these issues

Customers who participated in these sessions were asked to respond to a poll to help us understand how they’d like to participate in decision making about the issues they raised.

  • 51 customers wanted to be involved and work with South East Water to ensure their concerns and aspirations are directly reflected in the decisions made
  • 48 customers wanted to be consulted and have their concerns listened to and acknowledged
  • 42 customers wanted to collaborate with South East Water, providing advice and having that advice incorporated in the decisions made as much as possible.
  • 22 customers wanted to be kept informed
  • 13 customers wanted to be empowered to make the final decision.

Straight from the source

You can click on the links below to see direct customer comments from each of the workshops we help, with the feedback in its raw form.