Beth talks about the importance of including disabled customers in their research. What they learned in the research process. And how it’s affected the way Anglian Water runs as a business.

What were the project goals?

We went into the project wanting to understand our disabled customers. We wanted to know how they felt about our services.

We asked them to rate their experience with us. We looked at three main areas of interruption to supply support:

  • priority services
  • awareness
  • general service questions

This helped us to find out if there was anything that we needed to do that we weren’t doing already.

How did you find the process of working with Scope?

For us, it was an easy experience. Scope was phenomenal at leading our research. It was great having somebody to support us. Making sure that the questions we were asking would get the right responses. That the language we were using was inclusive and accessible.

They let us know little hints and tips, such as Hemingway app, which was helpful.

I was also happy with the amount of engagement Scope could generate in a short time. We received over 1,000 customer responses in 4 weeks.

Why did you choose to work with Scope to do this piece of research?

Scope is the leading expert in the UK when it comes to disability. And we wanted to include customers living with different impairments and conditions.

We wanted to make sure that we were sourcing that from an expert. Our goal was to get as many customers to engage with the process as possible. Partnering with Scope helped us to do this.

We used Scope’s trusted reputation to reach our customers. We know it’s harder to reach certain customer groups, and disability is one of those. Scope used the trust they hold in the disabled community. They said, ‘we’re working with Anglian Water. And participating in the research will improve your experience with us’.

We want to show we do care as a company. And that’s backed up by our work with a charity like Scope. It makes more customers engaged with you.

What insights did you get from the research?

The research that we did in partnership with Scope was very helpful. It helped inform our current thinking and shaped some of the support we provide.

My role is Partnership Manager. We have a partnership strategy that we work towards. Our strategy aims to identify new opportunities that support our customers. And the research with Scope was incredibly insightful in shaping that strategy.

We found that customers who are deaf and blind were the least aware of our priority services. That was a big learning for us and something that we’re working to address.

We also found that those more reliant on water had the biggest need. We then developed relationships with partners like Kidney Care UK. This helped us to offer the right support to customers with chronic kidney diseases. Also, those on home dialysis now know about our priority services register. And they know how we can help them.

But it also proved some of our thinking around making sure we were aware of customers’ vulnerabilities on our systems. Meaning that customers weren’t having to share their vulnerability again and again.

And there is a dedicated number that our customers can call if they are in a difficult circumstance. This goes straight to a priority services team. It gives those customers priority contact during a service interruption.

The priority services that we offer is important. We know that this is something our customers wanted.

What changes have you made since the since completed the research?

We do now have a priority services team that’s been in place for about 2 years. And that coincided with the research.

When we did the research, people asked for a dedicated priority contact number. Particularly for customers in vulnerable circumstances during service interruptions. It made sure that they received text notices of water supply issues.

This is what we were able to pull out of the research. And instead of doing it because we thought it was the right thing to do, our customers have told us what they want.

Are there any changes that affect our customers that you think came out of that research?

The research focused on prioritisation in the event of a service interruption. And which customer groups presented with the highest need, typically disabled people. When it comes to disability, people can become disabled throughout their lives.

Someone might say they don’t need priority services today. But you might need it tomorrow or in a month, or a year. The research shows that what we’re doing is the right thing. And that this will benefit our customers.

We’ve also shown our commitment to working with Scope long-term. And we have signed up for Scope’s utility membership programme.

Related products

Scope supports lots of organisations to understand their customers. If you’re interested in disabled consumer research, we may be able to help.