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Water sector service innovation : what, where and who?

Ward, Sarah and Brown, Steve and Burton, Aaron and Adeyeye, Kemi and Mannion, Noel and Tahir, Siraj and Gordon, Craig and Chen, George (2016) Water sector service innovation : what, where and who? British Journal of Environment and Climate Change, 6 (3). pp. 216-226. ISSN 2231-4784

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Abstract

Aims: Changes in water law and policy, in the UK and further afield, are promoting social and service innovation, as well as technical innovation in the water sector. In particular, the separation of wholesale and retail water and sewerage services for English and Welsh commercial water systems customers is leading to a focus on service innovation. But what do we mean by ‘service innovation'? To whom does it apply and how do these parties interpret it? To answer these questions, this paper presents the findings of recent interviews undertaken by and case studies presented to the Water Efficiency (WATEF) Network Service Innovation Technical Committee. Study Design: The paper explores definitions and interpretations of service innovation (SI) and discusses case studies where SI is already being realised in the water sector. Methodology: The study was conducted using interviews and case studies. Results: A tree-branch model of SI is proposed, emphasising the placement of the customer as the focus of SI. A revised definition of SI was also provided to assist water service providers in enhancing the services provided to their customers. Conclusion: The study revealed that the water sector offers scope for improvement in fundamental business services. These include billing, customer relations, communication (information services) and data provision and visualisation.