Our Customer Care Team is dedicated to helping those who may need extra support from time to time. Whether it's due to age, ill health, disability, mental health problems, financial worries or language barriers.
We spoke to two of our Customer Care Advisors, Emma and Louisa, about how they go the extra mile to help the most vulnerable in our communities.
How long have you been at South East Water?
Emma: I started at South East Water in October 2017 as a Customer Service Advisor with the Contact Centre team. I then moved to the Customer Care team in February 2019 and really love working in the department.
Louisa: I’ve been with the company for five years now, In fact I’ve just received my five year badge! Before I joined South East Water I worked for Eurostar as an Admin Assistant and Team Leader.
Can you tell us about your role in the Customer Care team?
Emma: My role within the Customer Care team is to promote and apply the most beneficial tariffs and services to our customers’ accounts to make sure we are supporting them as best we can.
This could be something like our Social Tariff which is based on a low combined household income, or our Watersure Tariff where the customer needs to be in receipt of qualifying benefits and have either three or more children under 19, or someone living at the property who has a medical condition which requires the use of more water. Both of these support tariffs lower or cap bills for the year which can make a big difference.
We also have our Priority Services Register (PSR) which offers support to customers when there is a water supply incident in the area. It helps us to identify who needs bottled water to be delivered to them and means we can give prior notice of any planned works.
I also help with our Helping Hand scheme which is funded by donations from us and offers financial assistance to clear water and sewerage debt. This is a really good scheme for customers who have struggled but are willing to help themselves, giving them a fresh start and helping them become debt free.
Louisa: My role within the Customer Care Team is very varied. Day to day I take calls from customers and try to help get them on the right tariff for their needs. For example, if someone wants their water payments taken from their benefits we can apply for the deductions for them. I love my role as I feel like we really get to spend quality time talking to customers and supporting them. We also deal with a lot of admin in the team, this could be data cleansing, replying to customer emails or helping to set up payment plans.
Another important part of my role is also our Priority Services Register. It’s important we make sure vulnerable customers are signed up to the register so we can support them with their water supply or bill. During the pandemic I’ve come to realise there are lots of ways people can be vulnerable, whether they’re elderly, have young families, have financial difficulties or underlying health conditions that might not be obvious. I think it’s important we reach out to as many of our customers as possible.
Can you think of a time when you feel you’ve really helped a customer in need?
Emma: A customer I’ll always remember is one I helped apply for our Helping Hand scheme. He had retired and his wife had passed away a few years ago. Unfortunately he didn’t realise she hadn’t been paying the water bills. As soon as he knew, he started making regular monthly payments to help clear the arrears and paid his bill in full every six months. However, he was nearly £5,000 in debt. I had spoken to him a few times on the phone before and he was really grateful for the opportunity for us to help with clearing the debt. When we accepted him onto the scheme I called him to tell him, and he was very happy. He couldn’t thank me or the company enough and he was so pleased to know he no longer owed us so much money. We also sent him an afternoon tea hamper in February 2021 as part of our Random Act of Kindness Day, to which he called us to say it had made his day.
Louisa: One customer who I’m helping at the moment really sticks in my mind. We had a phone call one day to inform us that this customer had been without water due to an error when a neighbour’s new supply was fitted. However, she hadn’t called to tell us as she didn’t want to bother us or make a fuss. I’ve been working to build up a relationship with her to get her water sorted and we will now be installing a new supply for her. She is very vulnerable and doesn’t have many people to support her so I’ve made it my mission to help her as best I can and I don’t think I will forget her for a long time.
Find out more:
Priority Services Register: https://www.southeastwater.co.uk/hereforyou
Financial support: https://www.southeastwater.co.uk/helptopay
“During the pandemic I’ve come to realise there are lots of ways people can be vulnerable, whether they’re elderly, have young families, have financial difficulties or underlying health conditions that might not be obvious. I think it’s important we reach out to as many of our customers as possible.”