Customer Conduct Policy

Purpose of this policy

Two key parts of the Wessex Water mission are to provide reliable, affordable services for all customers and communities, and to be a great place to work for our people.

We are seen in the water industry as a leading company and we set ourselves high service standards. So we understand that customers may get frustrated in instances when these high standards are not met or when things go wrong.

In these instances, customers have every right to voice their frustrations, provide constructive criticism and, if necessary, make an official complaint in line with our complaints procedure. This is helpful for us, as it enables us to review and improve our services and processes to ensure any mistakes do not happen again. Unfortunately, there are occasions where our people face difficult, abusive, threatening and even violent behaviour from customers or other members of the public, which is unhelpful and unacceptable.

This policy outlines how we recognise and define unacceptable behaviour towards our people and the actions we will take in these instances.

It protects our people from harm and/or distress when carrying out their duties and ensures a fair and consistent response to anyone who engages in unacceptable behaviour.

This policy also applies to Wessex Water employees who are also customers. Any unacceptable conduct from an employee as a customer will be addressed through the appropriate human resources policies and procedures.

Key principles

We will not tolerate unacceptable behaviour directed towards our people during any form of interaction, including:

  • during a phone call
  • face to face
  • on the road
  • in an email
  • on our online Live Chat service
  • over social media
  • or any other form of communication with Wessex Water.

Our definition of unacceptable behaviour includes:

  • Physical violence, unwanted physical contact, or threats of physical violence or unwanted physical contact.
  • Use of inappropriate language, verbal or written, which may cause our people to feel scared, upset, humiliated, intimidated, threatened, offended, or distressed. This could be:
    • Remarks that insult someone’s intelligence or character.
    • Derogatory or offensive remarks about someone’s sex, age, disability, race, country of origin, accent, religion, sexual orientation, gender reassignment or other protected characteristic as outlined by the Equality Act 2010.
  • Harassment or repeated unwanted contact.
  • The rallying of family members, friends or supporters to carry out any of the unacceptable behaviour listed above.

The policy in action

Our people in customer-facing roles are trained on how to manage contact with frustrated customers or members of the public and on our official complaints procedure. If the voicing of the frustrations or complaint progresses into unacceptable behaviour directed at an employee personally, they will do the following:

  • Politely and respectfully ask the customer or member of the public to stop behaving in this way.
  • If the behaviour continues and/or turns violent, they will end the conversation and remove themselves from the situation.

New legislation under the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022 provides greater protection for customer-facing workers and harsher sentencing for people who commit assaults against a person providing a public service.

We may refer specific cases or repeat offenders to the police, if appropriate. Any actual or threat of physical harm or violence will not be tolerated and will always be reported. We will provide any evidence, such as video footage, audio recordings, written information, or comments or posts made on social media to assist in any police investigation.

Sue Lindsay, Director of Customer Policy & Engagement

Approval date: 01/05/2024

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