Our strategies and plans

Customer research

We consider engagement with our customers crucial in achieving a fair outcome to the price-setting process. Throughout PR14 we  aimed to be transparent with our customers and stakeholders.

Some of the formal research we conducted during PR14 process looked at Customer Service Priorities, Willingness to Pay and the Acceptability of our business plan.

The Customer Research Task Group actively engaged with us and our consultants by providing constructive feedback to ensure questions and information contained in the research allowed customers to share their views on aspects of water services and prices.

Examples of these studies are highlighted below:

Customer Service Priorities

We conducted a survey of customer satisfaction in June 2012. The aim of the survey was to obtain the views of household and non-household customers regarding existing service provision in the form of satisfaction and importance ratings.

In line with this aim, some of the research objectives were to:

  • Discover household and non-household customers' views on South Staffs Water and obtain their levels of satisfaction, or dissatisfaction, with existing service provision
  • Identify those aspects of service that are most important to household and non-household customers, and where improvements would be most valued
  • Explore customers' expectations and aspirations regarding future service delivery

To best meet these objectives, a quantitative survey of customers was used. Examples of questions and results from the survey are:

Overall, how satisfied or dissatisfied are you with the water service provided by South Staffs Water?

Result Domestic Business
Very satisfied 51% 25%
Fairly satisfied 33% 47%
Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied 11% 21%
Fairly dissatisfied 4% 4%
Very dissatisfied 1% 3%

How satisfied or dissatisfied are you with each of the following aspects of water service? (Business)

Question Very satisfied Fairly satisfied Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied Fairly dissatisfied Very dissatisfied
Water pressure 29% 44% 22% 1% 4%
Account management 23% 31% 37% 5% 4%
Value for money of water service 19% 32% 38% 7% 4%
How quickly leaks are located and repaired 18% 43% 28% 6% 5%
Taste/ appearance/ smell of drinking water 18% 16% 53% 8% 5%
Information on company's activities 17% 19% 55% 6% 3%
Hardness of tap water 13% 31% 41% 11% 4%

Willingness to Pay

In January 2013 we engaged with ICS Consultancy to commence Willingness to Pay research. Essentially Willingness to Pay is the measure of how much customers are willing to pay for improvements in services and their willingness to accept a deterioration in other services for the five year period 2015 - 2020.

The Willingness to Pay research engages with domestic and business customers to assess the monetary benefit of services aspects. The survey data will be used to support potential investments and business planning. Additionally the research aims to understand customers' service priorities.

We have now completed the Willingness to Pay study, and the results are given below. The study examined customer attitudes towards the following:

  • Bill increase/decrease to fund service level increase/decrease
  • The taste and smell of tap water
  • The number of interruptions to supply due to burst pipes
  • The frequency of restrictions on water use during periods of drought
  • The pressure of tap water
  • The hardness of tap water
  • Noise, disruption and inconvenience from water company repairs
  • Response time to service failures
  • Ease of contact with South Staffs Water
  • Treatment of customer complaints
  • The appearance of tap water
  • Flooding from burst mains
  • The provision of information on water efficiency
  • The level of leakage
  • Sharing your water supply pipe with your neighbour
  • Low river water levels due to South Staffs taking water from the environment
  • Minor pollution incidents in rivers due to equipment failures


The company also engaged ICS / EFTEC to carry out research on the acceptability of the business plan proposals. The results are below.

Business Plan proposals

Following the publication of our draft business plan, the plans also went out for consultation to stakeholders and members of the public, resulting in nearly 1,000 responses. A summary of the responses is available below.