Showcasing the Best of Welsh Business

Bilingual “Chatbot” Plans Future for Welsh Water

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  • Company is consulting thousands of customers across Wales and Herefordshire on how it tackles issues like climate change, population change and renewing its huge networks
  • First-ever bilingual Welsh-language ‘chatbot’ rolled out alongside TV/radio ads narrated by Hollywood actor Matthew Rhys
  • Guest “vlogger” Cai Morgan broadcasts live from summer events on Welsh Water’s work
  • Around 13,000 customers have had their say in first six weeks of campaign

A pioneering campaign handing customers a say in the long-term plans of their water company has amassed thousands of responses in only six weeks.

Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water’s Have Your Say campaign, which gives customers a chance a role in how hundreds of millions are spent in future,

The company has given away thousands of its iconic blue “Dŵr” bottles at summer shows, including the National Eisteddfod in Anglesey, the Royal Welsh Show in Builth Wells and the Cardiff Food and Drink Festival.

Customers are also able to give their views through what is thought be the first Welsh-language bilingual “chatbot” of its kind in Facebook Messenger. It has also enlisted the help of vlogger Cai Morgan through its “Reservoir Vlogs” and Facebook Live series, which looks at the nine big challenges of the coming decades – from climate change to discoloured water – in an unconventional way.

The company has also been at events throughout the summer to allow customers to have their say in person, including the Cardiff Bay Food Festival, the Royal Welsh Show in Builth Wells, the National Eisteddfod in Anglesey and will be at Pride Cymru in Cardiff this weekend for the first time – where revellers can pick up its iconic blue and green “Dŵr” bottles.

The company recently outlined its blueprint for tackling some of the biggest long-term issues facing water supply and wastewater services, Welsh Water 2050. The response to the campaign has already outstripped last year’s efforts, which saw 12,000 responses from across Wales and Herefordshire.

Because the company is not-for-profit, it doesn’t have shareholders and any “profit” it does make is reinvested back into the business. It regularly consults customers on how extra investment should be prioritised.

This year, it’s asking customers to rank how it should prioritise responding to major challenges facing Wales and Herefordshire over the next few decades, spanning:

  • Better water quality for all
  • Working with nature for cleaner water
  • Making water supply more reliable
  • Making things better for customers who are let down most often
  • Working with nature to reduce flooding and risk of pollution
  • Cleaner beaches and rivers
  • Help for people who struggle to pay their bill
  • Giving more back to our communities

The results will feed into its Welsh Water 2050 consultation, as well as influence the business plan it will submit to the industry regulator, Ofwat, on how it intends to improve services and keep bills lower between 2020-2025.

Welsh Water, which employs more than 3,000 people across its area, has established a permanent online panel where customers can influence future service improvements, plans, and how the company communicates with customers.

Welsh Water Chief Executive Chris Jones said:

“As a not-for-profit company, we have customers at the heart of everything we do – not shareholders.  We have a responsibility to make sure the business and our networks are strong and resilient in the future for the benefit of our customers.

“We are facing some big challenges for the future – including changing weather patterns, climate change, population change, resource availability, and a huge infrastructure some of which dates back to the Victorian era.

“Have Your Say is a unique chance for our customers to shape not only how we prioritise investment and improve our network over the next few years, but for decades to come. With more ways than ever to take part, we want all of our customers to let us know what we can do to make our services the best they can be, at the most affordable price.”