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Southern Water still worst performing in England and Wales despite 45% drop in complaints

PUBLISHED: 09:15 20 September 2017 | UPDATED: 09:15 20 September 2017

Southern Water's performance has been criticised despite improvements

Southern Water's performance has been criticised despite improvements

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The company racked up more written complaints than any other for the fifth consecutive year

One of Kent’s biggest water suppliers has been told by a utilities watchdog it must improve after racking up the most written complaints of any water company in the country for the fifth year in a row.

Annual figures published this week by the Consumer Council for Water (CCWater) show Southern Water reduced its written complaints to 8,733 from 15,797 the previous year - a drop of some 45 per cent - but is still under pressure as the worst performing water company.

Southern also reported a 54 per cent increase in ‘unwanted contacts’, where its customers had to pick up the phone to resolve an issue.

The company has attributed this to a review of its internal recording processes.

Sir Tony Redmond, London and South East Chair for CCWater, said: “We are encouraged by Southern’s improvement but its performance remains poor in comparison to the rest of the industry.

“There is a lot more work to be done by the company.”

Southern Water’s chief customer officer, Simon Oates, said: “I am pleased we are the most improved company across the industry in terms of achieving the largest reduction in written complaints.

“Despite this 45 per cent reduction we are still at the foot of the industry league tables, so we’ll continue to work closely with our colleagues at CCW to drive forward further improvements and move up the rankings.

“Our teams have worked so hard over the last year and we are all committed to continuing to improve responsiveness and focus more on meeting the individual needs of our customers.

“We’ve carried out a thorough review to ensure we can make it easier to do business with us - whether it’s online, face-to-face or over the phone.

“This includes making significant improvements to our website and customer contact centre.

“We want to reassure our customers we’re building on the significant improvements we have already made, and bringing our performance up to the standard they quite rightly expect from us.”

The company say it has taken a number of steps to improve customer experience, including launching a new online services portal which helps to make it easier for customers to manage their account.

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