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Research helps Vitens zoom in on customer desires more sharply

Vitens has for many years focused on giving its customers peace of mind by providing them with water of impeccable quality. Under the heading of ‘customer excellence’, the company recently announced its wish to take a further step towards placing customers at the centre by, for instance, also actively listening to their desires and needs. Within the water sector’s joint research programme (BTO), research was carried out into how Vitens can best connect to the subjective perception and experience of its customers, with a special focus on the management of assets such as the distribution network.

Using quantitative and qualitative research methods, KWR has, among other things, delineated four different household customer groups, as well as the desires and needs of household, business and vulnerable customers. The work also examined the willingness to pay of this full range of customers. The research results offer not only the means with which Vitens can develop its new Long-Term Vision (LTV), but also point to how the company can organise its infrastructure and asset management process in such a way that the customer is explicitly taken into consideration.

(Translation of terms in illustration (clockwise) : Us, Them, Me, You, Small Business, Large Business, Vulnerable.) The different customer profiles elaborated by KWR and their icons.

(Translation of terms in illustration (clockwise) : Us, Them, Me, You, Small Business, Large Business, Vulnerable.) The different customer profiles elaborated by KWR and their icons.

Among its outcomes, the research makes tangible the different perspectives of the household customers, capturing them in four profiles. It also studied the willingness to pay of the household and business customers. Household customers are more inclined to pay extra for a greening of the drinking water provision, while business customers are readier to pay for improvements that ultimately also provide them with cost savings, such as water containing less lime. For vulnerable customers, there is potential room for improvement in the provision of information and in the infrastructure associated with the communication of changes or disruptions in the drinking water provision.