min read

Transforming Complaint Handling at Southern Water

Behavioural challenge



Transform customer experiences

Regional monopoly is a challenge faced by UK water utilities. Each company serves a specific region, meaning customers must rely on predetermined regional providers.

Customers, therefore, can experience feelings of diminished autonomy and have difficulties feeling heard, resulting in elevated levels of complaints and dissatisfaction.

Southern Water's teams faced a unique set of challenges in driving compelling conversations and positive customer interactions as a result.

Behavioural solution

Together, a highly successful suite of interventions was created and implemented across two phases within Southern Waters’ contact centre. Both of which recognised the different requirements in crafting written responses and verbal conversations.

Each phase involved four important stages:

Behavioural Audit
To identify the behavioural barriers faced when dealing with complaints.

Behavioural Guide
Providing supportive tools for dealing with challenging conversations.

Intervene & Upskill
Personalised and engaging training, including interactive activities to practice new techniques.

Experimental Design
A/B split tests compared outcomes from upskilled employees to a control condition.

Behavioural outcomes


57.9% reduction in escalations of verbal complaints

48 sec reduction in average handling time



"Intuitively, even from the very beginning, you could see these new templates were so much easier and more enjoyable for us to use. We’re getting the chance to write to customers how we would really like to."

Participant of the training at Southern Water

Award Winning Case Study - Internal Communications & Engagement Awards 2023

Want to find out more?

We’d love to chat to you about how to start applying behavioural science - book a slot below to catch up with Jez and find out more.