It was important to us that our customers were able to make educated contributions to the development of our Drainage and Wastewater Management Plan (DWMP).
We started by educating a diverse group of customers that represented of our customer base in our North East region. We made sure that the group included customers who’d experienced wastewater issues, such as internal flooding, and customers who used the water environment recreationally.
Working with an independent market research agency we designed an online engagement platform that could collect individual customers’ views. We then used the results in eight online discussion sessions to obtain consensus on the most important issues. We made sure that customers without digital access could be involved through telephone interviews.
Sixty current and future customers, along with some local businesses, took part in the individual stage of the research. They were taught about:
Participants were then asked to prioritise different high-level aims for the DWMP, as well as being able to add any additional aims of their own. They were asked their opinions on how risks could be prioritised in the plan, and how they would like customers to be involved in developing the remainder of the DWMP.
Customers were able to interact directly with our employees to ask questions and clarify issues. Directors, senior managers and Board members also joined in the discussions. Many have signed up to take part in the subsequent stages of our DWMP research. Here are some customer comments about their involvement in this project:
"I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it. I’ve learned a lot. I feel valued as a customer and included in discussions about things that may affect me."
“It makes us feel included, that Northumbrian Water really do care and value us as customers. I’ll be interested to see how this research impacts on what Northumbrian Water does going forward.”
"When you get into the finer detail, I would imagine you'd want someone who knew what they were talking about.”
“It’s good to know they have proper scientists and specialists in the field. But I think as paying customers, it’s really important our views are included too.”
“I think consultation is exceptionally important because it not only consults you, but it also educates. There are bits through this consultation process that we weren’t aware of and we can actually change our habits now as well as giving you my views.”