Pulling the plug on poor customer service

Behind the Scenes

Companies that provide utility services to the public often have a negative perception. I’m talking about pushy sales techniques, hidden costs, long waiting times and impersonal service. When Roger Green and I started Brightwater, our key objective was to provide customers with the opposite – accurate information provided by a team who care about what they are doing, plenty of support and quick response times.

At Brightwater, our focus is on helping customers use less water and save money. We do everything we can to help you save and, admittedly, this can make us less profitable than other bottom-line focused providers. However, we do this for a good reason. The long-term customer loyalty engendered by our approach creates a win-win for both parties.

Our ethos is based on communicating with customers, considering their needs, caring about them and, ultimately, helping them save money on an essential product.

When it comes to customer service, we aim to be “best in breed.” But why? In 2014, Roger started a project to help companies save money. He found that a means of achieving this for many businesses was to change water providers. At the time, most companies in Scotland were still using Business Stream, with many unaware that there was even an option to switch. I joined him in April 2015 to start the dedicated brand ReduceMyWaterCost.com to heighten awareness of the benefits of switching water provider and to help companies do it.

After learning about the market and experiencing it for ourselves, we began to recognise that many of our clients had the same doubts about some of the big contenders. Hidden costs, difficulty in switching, bills that were incorrect and, most concerningly, customer service that was so bad that our clients couldn’t get issues dealt with quickly – or sometimes, at all.

We decided that enough was enough and, in 2016, launched Brightwater, a water and waste water services company with a model designed around our customers’ needs. Our ethos is based on communicating with them, considering their needs, caring about them and, ultimately, helping them save money on an essential product.

One of the key ways we do this is by encouraging our higher volume clients to use smarter metering. Increasingly used for managing gas and electricity in the home or workplace, the water industry is lagging behind on the technology front. However, any organisation that uses over 1,000 cubic metres of water – the equivalent of 12,500 baths – each year will find it to be financially beneficial. The meters are easily installed, affordable and take readings every 15-30 minutes, which can be tracked online. Analysis of the data can show where water is being wasted and if possible leaks occur.

We proactively help companies reduce their water usage and our team is equipped to provide useful tips and advice on how to do so. We’ll carry out a building analysis for clients to ensure that water wastage is minimised and, hence, money is saved. For an office, we’ll ask about the number of staff, days of operation, how water is being used – for example, the number of bathrooms and if there a dishwasher – and we can undertake leak tests to minimise water being wasted and establish if the company is overpaying on property and road drainage. When we fully understand their water usage, we’ll work with them to minimise waste and their bills.

At Brightwater, our focus is on helping customers use less water and save money

A key aspect of our customer service is transparency. Brightwater is the first water utility company in Scotland to sign up to an independent third party review provider, eKomi, and encourage our clients to actively give us feedback. This allows us to see where we are doing well and where we can improve. Most importantly, it allows us to develop a direct conversation with our customers about how we can continue to work better for them.

We’re in an interesting position in Scotland. Everyone’s water comes from the wholesale provider Scottish Water. Changing provider won’t alter the product. However, we can change how your company engages with it. If you are currently getting terrible service, you need to question how much your provider cares about you, and if you’re a supplier that is getting negative feedback, you need to question how much you value your customers.

We’re Brightwater, we’ll make your water experience stress-free and surprisingly simple.

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