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In 2012 we began a planned and thorough process to establish the views of our customers. It is not practical to speak to every customer so we employed the services of an experienced market research company who conducted research with a representative sample of customers on our behalf. 

The research program started in May 2012 with a series of 13 discussion groups, each comprising around 6 customers selected at random from business groups, vulnerable people, younger members of the community and householders. Each group was encouraged to talk about water in general and Bournemouth Water in particular. Apart from making a short audiovisual presentation, we had no involvement in this process, thereby ensuring that the contributors’ views were not influenced by us. 

The findings from these discussion groups formed the basis of formal telephone research, commencing in July 2012, during which around 500 domestic and 150 business customers took part in a survey. The survey was independently designed by our market research company and our involvement was again kept to the minimum possible. In November 2012, we tested the findings with a group of 20 customers, 10 domestic and 10 business, who we invited to spend a day with us. This enabled us to explore in more depth the findings of the survey by listening to their opinions to ensure they mirrored our analysis of the findings. 

This enabled us to carry out more specific research on what our customers’ priorities are for their water supply for the period 2015-2020. And then finally, to re-assure ourselves that we had correctly interpreted the views of our customers, we held a series of research events where customers were recruited from the street and shown details of our proposed plans. After having the chance to study and consider the proposals they were asked: “Is this plan acceptable to you?” and 79% of the 196 people asked said “Yes”. 

In addition to the above program we also liaised with local schools to seek out the views of our “Future Customers”. 8 secondary schools took part and over 1000 questionnaires by students aged 16-18 were returned. The findings from this research will assist us in our long term planning. 

The results and information obtained from our customers during the above program were submitted to Ofwat with our Draft Business Plan in December 2013. 


Following Ofwat’s Risk Based Review of our December submission we undertook further research to establish our customers’ specific views on two key areas|: 
  • The continuation of our policy to install meters when a change of occupier took place and 
  • Whether the slight additional cost of being a small company represented value for money for our customers. 
The results from this research influenced our revised plan submitted in June 2014. 

In August 2014, having reviewed our revised plan Ofwat issued their draft determination. We subsequently undertook one final piece of research to explore customer’s views on whether they preferred changes to their bills to reflect actual costs incurred in the previous 12 months or should we smooth changes to bills evenly over the 5 year period. Over 66% of our customers opted for smooth bills. 

The results from this final piece of research influenced our revised plan submitted in June 2014. 

In August 2014, having reviewed our revised plan Ofwat issued their draft determination. We subsequently undertook one final piece of research to explore customer’s views on whether they preferred changes to their bills to reflect actual costs incurred in the previous 12 months or should we smooth changes to bills evenly over the 5 year period. Over 66% of our customers opted for smooth bills. 

The results from this final piece of research were a key component of our response to the draft determination in October 2014. 

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Should you get a water meter?

Water meters have important benefits for you, for us and for the environment as you can have more control over your water use and leaks are easier to detect.  

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