Strategic Response 9

Supporting customers in vulnerable circumstances

We need to use data effectively, provide personalised customer service and work in partnership with other service
providers to give appropriate and effective support to customers in vulnerable circumstances.
SR9 - Supporting customers in vulnerable circumstances with Paula Burnell

This strategic response includes:

We will improve our internal processes and
work with partner organisations to deliver a
portfolio of initiatives to support customers in
vulnerable circumstances. We will:
• Work with social housing providers to
include water-saving devices in new
properties or during refurbishment.
• Adopt a community-centred approach,
targeting one community at a time to
complete upgrades (new water mains,
green infrastructure), tackle blockages,
promote social tariffs, etc.
• Use our data and systems and work with
the UK Government and other utilities
under the Digital Economy Act to identify
customers in vulnerable circumstances.
We will innovate to tailor communications
and services for customers and to help our
employees to make better decisions and
identify the best course of action for our
customers.
• Reduce the impact of operational incidents
(for example interruptions to supply, water
quality incidents and flooding) and tailor
our communications and service for
customers who have a specific need or
dependence on our service by increasing
the numbers of customers registered for
Priority Services and improving the support
we offer.
• Address financial vulnerability and
affordability by having schemes in place to
support customers to have a reduced bill.
As well as affordability schemes this
includes promoting meters where they
would reduce a customer’s bill and
providing demand management/money
saving advice that might help customers to
lower their bills.
• Be flexible with vulnerable customers on
items such as when bills are paid, use
different formats of bills to be
understandable and encourage payment,
where meters are located.
• Be more flexible on capped bills for health
conditions.
• Put focus onto understanding transient
factors that may put customers into
vulnerable circumstances and develop
ways of addressing them.
• Train and support employees so that they
understand factors that make our
customers vulnerable and provide them
with the knowledge and skills to respond or
refer the customer on to a specialist team
or external source of support.

Research and Innovation

Welsh Water will explore the following
research topics to support this initiative:
• Explore the opportunities to identify
customers in vulnerable circumstance
through new data sharing programmes
including the Swansea University’s SAIL
Databank. This facility provides the ability
to take Welsh Water datasets and compare
to other datasets from a wide range of
contributing partners. A good case in point
would be area-based comparisons of
Welsh Water customers on social tariffs
with those in receipt of particular benefits.
• Understand patterns of consumption for
vulnerable customers, using smart meter
data, and flagging if there are unusual
usage patterns; for example, they’ve left a
tap running.
We will work with other utilities for this
research such as Wales and West Utilities and
WPD, within the Digital Economy Act: sharing
data monthly to identify customers in
vulnerable circumstances.

Find out more 

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