Action to protect the environment and fix leaks must be a priority for water companies to build trust with their customers, according to a new study from the Consumer Council for Water (CCW).
New research published today (Friday) by CCW shows that general levels of trust in water companies is high when it comes to providing reliable and sustainable services and keeping customers informed.
However, fewer than half of people (43%) trust water companies to protect and enhance the environment.
CCW wanted to gain a better understanding of people’s perceptions of water companies, and the wider industry, to ensure that they are addressing the priorities that matter to the communities they serve.
When asked to describe what water companies could do to build trust with water consumers, reducing pollution and fixing leaks were named as top measures.
Emma Clancy, CCW Chief Executive, said: “Understanding what action needs to be taken to build trust in water companies is imperative if we’re to create a sector that works for people and the environment – which is one of our key ambitions.”
“The two issues most commonly mentioned by people were leaks and polluting of rivers and seas, and these risk further eroding trust in the sector. Companies not only need to address these areas but they should also be clear and consistent in how they communicate their actions to people, with far greater transparency over their performance.”
When asked to describe their water company in their own words, people’s descriptions were more positive than negative – 46% and 34%, respectively. However, nearly half of those surveyed used negative terms to describe the water industry, as a whole.
Younger people, the less wealthy and consumers living in the North East, Wales and the West Midlands tended to have a more positive perception of their water company and the industry as a whole.
Those of an older demographic, the wealthier and people living in the South East tended to have a more negative perception.
Two-thirds (62%) of water consumers said their perception of their water company had not changed in the last year. However where it had changed, it tended to be for the worse (23%) with only 11% saying their perceptions had got better.
The report concludes that better communication is key to improving trust in the water sector. As the cost of living crisis continues to hit people in the pocket, it’s even more imperative water companies tell their customers how they are spending their money to improve services and address the concerns they have on issues like enhancing and protecting the environment.
CCW has already begun working with the sector to help water companies improve the way they communicate with the communities they serve, on a range of issues, including the value of water and protecting the environment.