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Southern Water to cut customer service jobs

Southern Water has confirmed that many customer service roles will be moving to outsourcing giant Capita.

The company said in a statement on its website that it is "two years into a challenging business transformation programme" after the BBC reported that around 200 customer service jobs could be cut at its Worthing and Falmer offices.

Capita was selected by Southern Water as its new customer services 'managed service provider' in July last year in a contract worth more than £30 million.

The deal was signed for an initial five-year term with an option to extend for a further three years. It followed a six-year relationship between the two companies for front-office operations.

Southern Water said it is making changes to ensure its customer service “remains fit for the future” while keeping “bills affordable”.

In a statement, the company said: “We are making good progress and have delivered our best ever customer service score in the water industry league table. We’ve created more than 100 jobs in our IT department by bringing the service in house.

“These positive improvements have been recognised by our regulators. However, there is more to do and the changes we are making will ensure our customer service remains fit for the future and meets our customers’ expectations, while keeping bills affordable and meeting the efficiency challenge set out by our regulator, Ofwat.

"To help us achieve the step change needed to reduce customer bills and operate more efficiently, we’re creating a joined-up service with existing partner Capita. This builds on a strong and successful relationship already established as Capita have supported our services like debt recovery. All customer voice contact will remain in the UK and be based with Capita in Rotherham.

"However, not all roles will be moving to Capita. We will be establishing a new in-house Southern Water retail team to lead and deliver our customer strategy, including monitoring the quality of service our customers receive and focusing on continuous improvement."

A Capita spokesperson added: “The significant expansion of Capita’s contract is testament to the confidence Southern Water has in our ability to deliver an outstanding customer service. By consolidating Southern Water’s complaints, collections, social media contact and some back-office services under one roof, we believe we will be able to further enhance customer experience.”

Unison regional organiser Caroline Fife told the BBC staff are "upset, shocked and angry" and that the transfer of roles to Yorkshire and India is due to begin on 1 August.

"Given the short timescale they want to know what is going to happen, when, and what money they will receive so they can plan their lives," Fife said.

Author: Robin Hackett, editor, WWT
Tags: Southern Water , customer service

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