Severn Trent Water Five Year Business Plan Study

Testing customers understanding & likely impact of the plan

All water companies have to submit their business plans to the regulator, Ofwat, outlining the vision and future programme of the company. Severn Trent Water (STW) developed its business plan for the period 2015-2020. Before the business plan was submitted to Ofwat they needed to test its overall acceptability amongst customers, both domestic and business, across the region. STW asked Qa to help them achieve this.

What they asked us to investigate

The objectives for the research included:

  • Explore the views and understanding of customers regarding the PR14 Business Plan
  • Determine the most desirable balance of investment amongst customers’ and assess attitudes towards the impact this would have on customers’ bills
  • Understand the likely impact of the business plan and associated investment on customers’ perceptions of STW (e.g. satisfaction, favourability)

Robust research

As the research had to stand up to the scrutiny of Ofwat, researchers at Qa employed a mixed methodology, utilising both quantitative and qualitative research methods in order to obtain the most robust results.

i) Quantitative: We captured the views of domestic consumers using ‘Hall Tests’ (a method to test reactions to products and concepts in a controlled environment) and a CAPI survey (Computer-assisted personal interviewing). Over 1,000 interviews were completed across the STW region. In addition, telephone interviews were carried out with 300 of STW’s business clients across a range of sectors and levels of water usage

ii) Qualitative: An extensive programme of qualitative research was undertaken including focus groups, in-depth home interviews with a mix of different ‘vulnerable’ customers and in-depth intergeneration family interviews. In addition, in-depth telephone interviews with businesses across the region were undertaken.

What we discovered

The survey allowed researchers to use an on-line slider to hypothetically increase or decrease the water bill and see what impacts on service and actions this would have, thus helping respondents see the consequences of their decisions. The research confirmed the broad acceptance to customers of the business plan, and also gave STW valuable information on the areas that might need addressing in the next 5 years.

What the Researcher said:

Nick How, Research Director at Qa said: “To enable us to examine the subtleties of different elements of the water bill and where money should be allocated, our ICT team developed an on-line survey to capture the data. To the respondents it appeared simple but it actually required complex programming.”

For further information contact Nick How on 01904 632039 or nick.how@qaresearch.co.uk