Vulnerable people in the west are getting some of the best help in the country from Wessex Water, according to a new report by Ofwat who have hightlighted the water company for their work.
This week the company was invited to present to leading chief executives and customer service directors, as well as other companies in the water sector, about how it continuously goes above and beyond to support people struggling with issues often beyond their control that have made them vulnerable.
Head of customer relations at Wessex Water, Sue Lindsay, said: “No-one knows when they might need help and there are some people who simply don’t know where to go to get it.
“We are continually looking at ways we can provide vulnerable customers with the best possible experience when they deal with us and tailor our service to suit their individual needs.”
In its report, Ofwat said that vulnerability can take many forms and could relate to a disability, age, numeracy or digital literacy skills, a change in circumstances such as losing a job, or the effect of financial strain on mental or physical health.
It added that as people can move in and out of circumstances of vulnerability, water companies should focus on understanding all customers as individuals and not simply equate vulnerability with certain types of people, such as the elderly or those on benefits.
But Wessex Water was highlighted as a water company that bucks the trend and Ofwat named the company’s work with charities to train call centre staff to identify signs of mental health problems or financial difficulties as best practice.
Ofwat chief executive, Cathryn Ross, said: “Customers who find themselves in circumstances that cause them to be vulnerable often don’t get the support they need and sometimes don’t know how to ask.
“The single most important thing that companies can do is get to know their customers and understand their circumstances. They can then target services appropriately and build customer trust and confidence.”
Last year Wessex Water was assessed and praised for implementing the requirements of the British Standard for Inclusive Service Provision, due to its staff being able to fully recognise and help vulnerable customers
It has also been awarded the customer service excellence award from leading inspection organisation SGS for its high standards of customer service with recognition that it helps customers in financial difficulty.