LONDON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--South Staffs Water is once again the top-performing company in the customer service league table published by Ofwat, achieving the highest SIM score of 89 out of 100.
When averaged out, this latest score places the water company at the head of the league table over the three years since the SIM was introduced in 2011.
The ranking is especially important as it acknowledges South Staffs as delivering the best customer service out of the 18 companies that make up the UK water industry, while having one of the lowest bills.
Ofwat’s service incentive mechanism (SIM) is designed to improve the level of service companies provide. Since its introduction three years ago, South Staffs Water has continually outperformed other water and wastewater companies during a period when the spotlight has remained firmly on customer service and value for money.
Talking of its success, Rachel Barber, Customer Service Director, said; “We have taken time to listen to our customers and reviewed the way we work across all areas of our business. We’ve embedded an ethos that puts our customers first. Coming top in customer service is testament to our commitment and the support of our staff and supply chain partners.”
Customers have been quick to acknowledge the water company’s achievement.
Colin Walton, Senior Engineer at Marstons Brewery in Burton upon Trent, said: “As our local water company, South Staffs provides a great service at a great price. Both are vital for our continuing success as a Midlands-based brewery.”
With the wider utilities sector challenged with delivering good customer service at affordable prices to the consumer, South Staffs Water is clearly paving the way; a position it intends to fiercely defend over the next AMP period (Ofwat’s five year Asset Management Plan period).
Commenting on its vision for future customer service, Managing Director, Phil Newland says: “It’s not been an easy journey, especially as we remain committed to our affordability agenda and keeping our bills amongst the lowest in the country, but we are confident that our approach is right. We understand that we cannot allow service to falter and welcome our Regulator’s encouragement to continually improve service whilst delivering value for money.”
Notes to Editors
South Staffs Water
South Staffs Water supplies high quality drinking water to 1.6 million people and has a proven track record of delivering excellent customer service with low bills.
In 2014 it achieved a Service Industry Mechanism (SIM) score of 89 out of 100 placing it first in the industry for customer service
At the same time its bills remained 25% lower than the national average.
South Staffs region - In the South Staffs region, the company supplies large parts of the Black Country, including Walsall, Sandwell, and Dudley. It also covers Tamworth, Uttoxeter, Burton, Lichfield, Sutton Coldfield and Cannock.
It serves a population of 1.3 million and supplies 330 million litres of water every day across a network of pipes that total 6000km in length to approximately 500,000 homes and 36,000 business customers in an area covering 1,500km2.
Cambridge region - Following its merger with Cambridge Water in April 2013, the company also provides water to 319,000 people living in an area of 730km2 around the city of Cambridge. This extends to Ramsey in the north, Gamlingay in the west, Balsham in the east and Melbourn in the south.
The company does not provide wastewater services, but bills customers on behalf of Severn Trent Water and Anglian Water.
South Staffordshire PLC
South Staffs Water is part of South Staffordshire PLC - an integrated service group which provides a range of specialist services, predominately to the UK water sector, and increasingly to other infrastructure owners.
The South Staffordshire Plc Group comprises the following divisions:
Regulated water supply
South Staffs Water - Supplies clean water to approximately 1.3 million people in the Midlands.
Cambridge Water - Supplies clean water to approximately 0.3 million people in Cambridge and the surrounding area.
- SSI Services – Provides an expanding range of specialist contracting services to infrastructure owners.
- Echo - Provides customer service, billing and debt recovery services for the water industry and public sector, and the Rapid Xtra billing software.
- Spring Water – Supply of watercoolers, in addition to tankering of spring water.
On 30 July 2013 South Staffordshire Plc was acquired by the Global Infrastructure Fund of investment firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co L.P (KKR), together with certain of their infrastructure co-investors.
Ofwat – AMP
One of the ways Ofwat regulates is to set the price, investment and service package that customers receive. This includes setting limits on the prices the companies can charge their customers. To do this it must balance the interests of consumers with the need to make sure the sectors can finance the delivery of water and sewerage services. It also needs to make sure they are able to meet their other legal obligations, including their environmental and social duties.
AMP is an abbreviation for Ofwat’s ‘Asset Management Plan'. AMP 6 refers to the five year planning period for 2015-2020.
Ofwat monitors all water companies’ efficiencies across a range of categories, including customer service (SIM), the capability of the network, water quality and environmental non-compliances, etc. How a company performs in the previous AMP will affect its budget for the following AMP period.