Communication failure of NI Water slammed by McCrea

DUP MLA Ian McCrea has called on NI Water to bring their communication techniques into the 21st century following the Christmas crisis.

Mr McCrea, who is a member of the Regional Development Committee, Ian McCrea, hit out at NI Water for their lack of communication with customers during the water crisis when representatives were giving evidence.

Liam Mullholland, Director of Customer Services and Billing, accepted his criticism and said that NI Water were working to advance their communication techniques.

Ian McCrea said: “The water crisis that affected many thousands of people throughout Northern Ireland last week, and for some the week before, highlighted that NI Water proved very ineffective at communicating with their customers never mind elected representatives. “They need to bring their communication techniques in line with the 21st Century and make better use of the internet, to include Twitter and Facebook. This has proven effective for many other organisations.

“I for one have found it effective as an elected representative in order to update and communicate information to my constituents.

Having received a number of calls from constituents who were without water I at times felt that when I phoned the MLA’s dedicated number I was being provided with contradictory and at times useless information and on occasions call centre staff just read the information detailed on the website which was generalised and unhelpful. 

“Many people were warned that they would not have supply if they lived within a certain postcode. This was too general as people’s experiences differed within those postcodes.

“Many of my constituents were told that their water was to be cut off to allow for rotation but they had in fact been without water for a considerable period of time despite being told that their supply had been reconnected. This information was wrong and confusing for customers.

“Having regularly monitored the NIW website during this period I found that information was lacking and contradictory and when I phoned the hotline thinking I would get more information I was provided with the same information on their website.

“I welcome the fact that NI Water have accepted my criticism when giving evidence to the committee today and admitted that communication was very poor.

“I also welcome the fact that they have said that they will be working to improve how they communicate with their customers also and to bring it up to date with the 21st Century.

“This was a key criticism of NI Water during the crisis and one that I will continue to pursue to ensure that NIW have a modern and effective way of communicating with their customers whether or not we are dealing with a crisis.” the DUP MLA said.