Water & Wastewater Treatment

WWT November 2016

Water & Wastewater Treatment Magazine

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Page 15 of 47

16 | NOVEMBER 2016 | WWT | www.wwtonline.co.uk Industry leader John Devall, Water Director, Northumbrian Water "Customer perception should be your reality – it's the ultimate barometer." D rinking water quality has been high enough in Britain for so long that it is largely taken for granted, and with compliance failures extremely rare, it may seem that there is little room for improvement. Yet with greater competition about to be injected into the sector, it is no time for the industry to be resting on its laurels: water companies are seeking to di• erentiate themselves wherever they can and provide an excellent customer experience. So what room is there to add value when it comes to drinking water quality? For John Devall, Water Director at Northumbrian Water, the answer is clear. It is not just the quality of the water that matters, but the customer's perception of it. "Customer perception should be your reality – it's the ultimate barometer," says Devall. "Figures show that more people across the country are now choosing to drink bottled water. With the tap water being safe and wholesome, if the customer still prefers bottled water because of its taste, then that should be concerning for the industry." Northumbrian is the second best performer in the country when it comes to the taste and odour of its water, with the company receiving about 100 complaints of this nature a month. But with an ambition to be number one, and a demanding ODI from Ofwat to boot, Devall and his colleagues have opted for a highly engaged approach to the issue. Where in the past a customer complaining about the taste of the water might simply have been told that it was nothing to worry about, every customer making a complaint about taste or odour is now receiving a personal visit from the water company. While in many cases no further action will be required, the visits can help explain operational details – such as the switching of supply from one source to another - that can a• ect the taste Interview by James Brockett The 'Main Event' mains cleaning programme around Newcastle involved signifi cant public engagement

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