In the first of a series of online surveys, 43 per cent of small and medium-enterprise (SME) customers told the water watchdog they were aware that the water market opened to competition in April.

However, only around 26 per cent had a clear understanding that choice only related to retail services – including billing, meter reading and customer service.

Thirty-nine per cent of SMEs who said they were unlikely to switch or negotiate a better deal felt their organisation did not use enough water to save any money. One in five (22 per cent) businesses did not see the need to switch because they were happy with their current deal.

Graph: Reasons SMEs are unlikely to switch water retailer


Source: CCWater

CCWater said retailers need to do more to explain how switching can benefit even the smallest business, through the provision of tailored services, simpler billing and better customer service.

Awareness among SMEs has risen considerably since the consumer watchdog carried out a survey in the early part of 2016, which revealed fewer than one in 10 small businesses were aware of the soon-to-be launched retail water market. However, chief executive Tony Smith said there is still more to be done by everyone in the water sector to “reach out to small businesses” and inform them of their right to switch or negotiate a better deal.

“Small businesses, in particular, would benefit from more communication and clarity about the retail market and the opportunities it offers for their organisation,” he said. “This can help to ensure the market works for everyone, from the largest manufacturer or supermarket chain to the smallest florist or coffee shop.”

CCWater will conduct another survey of SMEs in December, as part of an ongoing commitment to track the shifting views of business customers on the retail water market.

Lois Vallely

This article first appeared on edie’s sister title website, Utility Week

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