That was the intriguing title of the speech delivered by Martin Baggs, CEO of Thames Water, at our most recent HR Directors' dinner co-hosted with Hoggett Bowers.
Martin opened with a stark cost comparison between tap and bottled water, toasting us with a glass of his finest tap water: “On average people use 160 litres of water a day and people think that buying bottled water at £1 per bottle is good value! The typical household uses 600 litres/day and Thames Water delivers it to your house, to every room in your house and takes away the dirty water and then treats it as well! Those in the South East and London pay £1 per day for this service…now that’s exceptional value!”
He went on to say “Most customers never contact us, some just pay in advance, some don’t know who provides their water or wastewater service, some think it’s the council! So our challenge is how do you engage with customers who don’t even know who you are or that you provide a service to them?”
The water industry is going through the biggest period of change since it was regulated in 1989. The regulator wants Thames Water to deliver what the customers want and to do this we must engage with the customers. The next biggest challenge is the opening up of the business water market to competition in 2017.
What does that mean for the industry and how does Thames Water change an engineering / utility business into a service customer-delivery business? Employees and contractors will say they’re 'fixing the pipes' and 'digging a hole' not 'serving customers'.
Hadley Baldwin, Partner