By Grace Wilson
As the 2022 Rising Star for the Eastern Area, myself and the other 7 Rising Stars were fortunate to be invited to The Consumer Council for Water (CCW) for a masterclass with Emma Clancy, CEO.
From my customer service background, I was aware of CCW, however I was going into the masterclass with little in depth knowledge of the service they provide.
CCWater is an executive non-departmental public body, sponsored by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs. I was surprised to hear they are a relatively small company, with around only 70 employees, and they cost each bill payer only 24p in England and Wales.
CCWater are ‘the voice for water consumers’, they have helped thousands of consumers resolve complaints against their water company or retailer, while providing free advice and support.
It was fantastic to hear first-hand from Emma and the CCW employees just how passionate they are about the work they do, their innovative spirit and delivering on their promises to customers to enable positive outcomes. Given the current cost of living crisis, they are particularly invested in campaigning for water companies to lean into the current struggles and focus on the needs of individual customers.
Emma believes the water sector is very well trusted, however there is always room to challenge the industry to do better.
We discussed long term objectives and short-term campaigns; which are between 12 and 18months long. Before going onto an eye-opening exercise of Story Telling. Where we were split into small groups and given a scenario in which CCW had personally dealt with and successfully resolved for the consumer.
Not only was this an exercise in which you could turn a problem into a solution, it also put us in the shoes of the customer who were struggling and had reached out to CCW for assistance and support.
My scenario was a gentleman who had been struggling to pay his water bill for his young family. Following countless calls to his water provider he was advised different things by multiple operators, without reaching a solution that could assist in his situation.
In reaching out to CCW, the customer was made aware of a tariff, the social tariff, which is provided for customers who struggle to pay their bill.
This tariff is not readily advertised on most water companies’ websites and is mainly only used when the customer asks about the tariff directly to the call operator.
Following this session it really opened my eyes to how much we need to legislate change; in the energy sector we have the warm homes tariff to support people however the social tariff in the water industry is not readily available for customers to be put on to support them, at the moment it very much seems like a postcode lottery – when will this change?
I thoroughly enjoyed the time we spent at CCW, it was especially insightful to see it from a customer’s perspective. We have been invited to return to CCW, which would be fantastic to learn even more!