WATER AND SEWERAGE CORPORATION Committed to Growth, Committed to Quality

Student Center – Educating Our Youth

Is Water & Sewerage Corporation a Monopoly?

Q: Would you consider The Water and Sewerage Corporation a monopoly?

A:.  No. The WSC is not considered a pure monopoly due to many Bahamians using well water.

Q: Other than well water, are there any other suppliers of water for Bahamian consumers?

A: New Providence Development Company supplies water to parts of western New Providence and Paradise Island Utility supplies most of Paradise Island.

Q: What legislation is Water and Sewerage protected under?

A: The Water & Sewerage Act 1976.

Q: What is your pricing strategy as a monopoly firm?

A: The WSC fees are legislated by Parliament and can only change via an amendment to the Act, via approval by government for a tariff increase.

Q: What is Water and Sewage largest expense per month?

A: In 2014 Water Purchases totaled $34 MN (48% of operating expenses).  Staffing was $22.7 MN (32%)

Q: How do you operate to keep your input cost low to gain a profit?

A: The Corporation relies mainly on tariff increases to improve profits but there has been no tariff increase since 1999 which has affected profitability. Cost containment strategies include: public/private partnerships in water production (private sector builds/owns/operates), a $51 Million loan project to reduce water losses due to leaks; greater reliance on technology.

Q: What are your fixed and variable costs?

A: Go to our website: www.wsc.com.bs.  Click on Corporate and then on Financial.

Q: When Water and Sewerage increase their price do they see a decrease in the usage from consumers?

A: The Corporation has not had a tariff increase since 1999.

Q: If a person lives in an area that offers Water and Sewerage services but, decides to use well water are there any repercussions?

A: Currently, there is no legislation in place to address well usage.

Q: Does Water and Sewerage cover the entire Bahamas?

A: Yes, most of the islands with few exceptions like Grand Bahamas. Visit our website for coverage of the Bahamas.

Q: Is the level of quality in Nassau the same in the Family islands?

A: Although water supply have improved mainly in the major islands like Exuma, Abaco and Eleuthera due to the use of reverse osmosis plants, some islands still do not have a reliable water supply.  However, the Corporation is beginning to do improvements works in those islands as a result of a CDB Loan.

Q: Do you think prices would be better if Water and Sewerage had more competition?

A: The Corporation cannot increase the cost of water & sewerage services without government approval (tariff increase).  Refer to answer in question 6.

Q: If your price is below average variable cost. what will the company do? If price is below average variable cost, it means the firm is better off shutting down, however since this company is the only seller, what other alternatives do you look at?

A: The Corporation has historically relied on government subsidy to offset some of its expenditure particularly with respect to the Family Islands. However, with the economic downturn like many other businesses, the Corporation has had to find ways to streamline spending and restructure in order to become more economically viable. (b) While it’s true that the W&SC has no direct competition as we are the only distributor of potable water, many residents have chosen to use private wells which has impacted the Corporation’s revenue intake and reduced its market share.

Q: As a monopoly firm, can you explain the input processes of the company?

A: The WSC is not a true monopoly, as we have lost many residents to private wells.

Q: All firms have costs, such as variable cost, marginal cost, fixed cost, total cost, etc. How does the monopoly firm operate with these costs and do you illustrate graphs in your annual or quarterly report?

A: Refer to our corporate financial reports

Q: What barriers of entry are in place for your market?

A: Barriers to entry may exist because the Corporation is still a government owned entity and although there have already been some outsourcing of some aspects of the Corporation, and although future outsourcing may be likely, those barriers will remain unless permitted by further outsourcing or complete privatization.

Q: Has any firms ever attempted to compete in your market?

A: There are many bottle water companies but they are not considered direct competition as the W&SC is a distributor of municipal water supply, not a producer of bottled water.

Q: Are there any issues with the price that you set in the market?

A: Although there have not been any tariff increases since 1999, there is likely to be some outcry from residents when there is a rate increase especially due to the high cost of living in the Bahamas and especially with the introduction of VAT.

Q: As a natural monopoly of water what are your promotional strategies (e.g.safety advertising)?

A: The WSC’s promotional strategy is both product oriented & service oriented. We continue to strive to provide reliable quality water with efficient service.

Q: At this moment, can you tell us what is the firms average cost and the price of the product or service you are selling, as well as marginal revenue?

A: For details on our Financial Position, kindly visit our Corporate and Financials. Additionally, see attached Customer Service Guide for information on fees/costs.

 


R.O. Plants & Technology

Q: When was the plant built?

A: Windsor Plant Completed in 1997/ BHRO Plant Completed in 2006/ BHRO Expansion Plant completed in 2011.

Q: What part of New Providence does it service?

A: All areas, except western New Providence (but really WSC do all the distribution of the water so more accurate information could be had from your Water Supply Department).

Q: What is its capacity?

A: Windsor Plant produces 2 MIG per day; BHRO Plant produces 6 MIG per day and BHE Plant produces 4 MIG per day; MIG- Million Imperial Gallon.

Q Can you explain the technology?

A: We purify sea water using the process of reverse osmosis as the method of desalination (de-salting) of the sea water.

  1. Storage Capacity of the Hydro Tower: 750, US Gallons.
  2. How the water is channeled to the Hydro Tank for Storage: The Water that is produced at each Plant is stored in several low level storage Tanks (these are 5 MIG each). Your distribution team then uses large pumps to transfer water from these storage tanks to the blue hydro tower tank.

University of The Bahamas Research 

Module 1- Knowledge Gap and Policy Gap

Q: How does your company go about getting information on customer expectation of your services?

A: Questionnaires and Focused Groups.

Q: How do you design your questionnaire and interviews?

A: Questions are designed by our Public Relations Company and are specific to the research being done at the time.

Q: How do you get your samples?

A: Mainly door-to-door visits or Focused Groups.

Q: How does your implementation team go about strategizing and putting an implementation plan into action?

A: Our Public Relations Company has a mandate from InterAmerican Development Bank (IDB) which they must adhere to.  Additionally, there is joint collaboration with the P.R. and Marketing Department.

Q: How frequent do you do research on customer’s expectations?

A: We listen to what customers say to us daily and we are guided by that.

Q: How do you collect customer feedback?

A: Surveys, Focus groups, door-to-door visits.

Q: How often do you collect customer feedback?

A: Usually when customers advise us about areas where we need to improve as regard to our services.  Example:  system pressure or water quality.

Q: Does your customer feedback include satisfaction research?

A: CSat surveys are a part of our processes.

Q: How do you deal with and analyze complaints?

A: Complaints are monitored and responded to daily in order limit frequency and customer frustration etc.  Daily work orders are prepared to address complaints, and whatever the channel customers choose to communicate with us we’ve made ourselves easily accessible.  Analysis are carried out on a daily basis as well so we know customer who frequently complain and areas that we need to focus on more.

Q: Do you use customer panels (panels of customers that answer questions)?

A: For us, that would be the same as focus groups.

Q: Can customers speak to management if asked? Or, is there a system where customers have to make an appointment?

A: Yes, usually they can speak with a manager at time of visit, if the matter requires escalation.

Q: Do managers frequent customer service areas in the work place?

A: Yes, I am in charge of several customer service related areas which include Customer Relations, Call Center and PR and Marketing.

Q: If a complaint is made, and a customer wants managerial assistance, what is the average call back/ reconciliation time?

A: Our policy is, if it’s an online complaint (website/social media), the response time, depending on the nature of the complaint is 48 hours.  However, normally most complaints are responded to and resolved same day.  As a rule, daily acknowledgments are given, and the customer is advised that we will get back to them.

Q: Does your corporation host daily or monthly meetings with frontline staff and management?

A: Division and department meetings are held quarterly to minimize interruptions to customers. General staff meetings called by top management, are held as deemed necessary.

Q: Is it easily accessible for front line staff to receive assistance/ clarification from management?

A: Yes.  We follow an escalation procedure.

Q: Do managers interact with front line staff daily?

A Yes, we work as a team.

Q: Does your corporation encourage front line staff to have personal business relationships with management?

A: Yes, staff and management must interact daily to accomplish our corporate objectives.

Policy Gap

Q: How is the customer service process regulated or maintained?

A: There are set policies and processes that are followed.

Q: Are there any processes or operations in place to create and or modify your customer service process?

A:  Yes, as started previously we have made changes with respect to new applicants and tenancy.

Q: Is this process customer centric?

A: Yes.

Q: When assembling this process, are customer’s input involved?

A: Yes, was what inspired us to introduce tenancy in 2016.

Q: Are daily operations standard or to they vary day to day?

A: Yes, our operations are based on SOP’s

Q: What is the ratio of hard technology to soft technology?

A: Fairly balanced –hard technologies are mostly used for internal processes including remote monitoring of sites and water distribution systems.  Soft technologies are more customer-facing, like IVR, website, customer billing etc

Q: Do customers interact more with soft technology or hard technology?

A: Mainly soft technologies

Q: Are products offered at different economic levels to accommodate customers needs?

A: To an extent.  We offer senior citizens 30% off their water bills. Family Island tariffs are also differentiated.

Q: Are there any limits placed on particular customers for your service?

A: The Corporation is not product oriented.  It’s service oriented.

Q: Are customers segmented into target groups and if so what is the criteria?

A: It depends on what information we are trying to get.  For example, a particular campaign may have to be targeted more to millennials rather than baby boomers or older customers.

Q: Do you have different levels of services catering to all types of customers? If so, what are the current products and services that the company provides?

A: We are a utility company that provide water and sewerage services to most of the country.

Q: Are there any compassion packages/promotions for the less fortunate and seniors (retirees)?

A: Yes.  Refer to question 1 in Key 3.

Q: How do you come up with the average cost per customer a month on billing?

A: Basic cost equipment and labor cost and overhead expenses divided by number of customers.

Q: How does the company measure service usage throughout the island?

A: Through a metering system.

Q: What are your service quality goals?

A: Our service quality goals are mainly based on key performance indicators which are identified by each department.

Q: What are the steps in which you take to set your service quality goals?

A: The focus is on performance.  If we are meeting our key performance indicators, then we are likely to provide quality service at all times.

Q: Can you give us a major challenge/s experienced by the company?

A: Non revenue water – saved over 3.5 billion gallons of water … A few years ago, one of our major challenges was supply meeting demand.  However, we stopped barging water in 2011, and switch to reverse osmosis technology.  We increased our storage capacity and the amount of water into supply and since then we are proud of the fact that we have improved supply water to our customers with much more consistency and reliability.  So much so, that we are pleased to have been recognized as the top utility in the country because are supply did not go off during the hurricane.

Q: Do you have employee guidelines to be followed and evaluations to ensure that they are carried out?

A: Yes, staff guidelines have been agreed to by both the Corporation and the unions, and they are evaluated annually.

Q: How are your employee guidelines made?

A: See previous answer.

Q: How often do you recruit?

A: The process for recruit as agreed to by the unions, are that vacancies are advertised in house first and if no one meets the requirements, it would be advertised externally.  For the  most part, only highly specialized, skilled positions would require public advertisements.

After questions are answered we will conduct the Gap Analysis based on the actual information that will be provided and the solutions laid out in our course. We will then give recommendations based on our course as to ways to go about closing the Gaps in your company.

 

Malcolm Foulkes

Marketing Major

University of The Bahamas


2019 National Essay and Video Competition Flyer

 2019-  Essay Winners

Ariel Deane- 1st Place Winner
Nassau Christian Academy

Canaan Cooper -2 Place Winner
Aquinas College

Kyla Sands-3rd Place Winner
Central Eleuthera High


Video Winners:

Blandicah Cadet- 1st Place Winner
C V Bethel High School

Wisdom Thompson-2nd Place Winners
Windermere High School


Alesha Albury-2nd Place Winners
Preston Albury High School

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