Regulation of water utilities is often achieved through “yard-stick competition”, where the service quality of monopolistic service providers is compared with peer organisations in the same jurisdiction (Braadbaart, 2007; Lin & Berg, 2008). Regulatory models for water utilities focus on measuring business performance through a series of indicators (Braadbaart, 2007; Byatt, 2013; Ehrhardt & Janson, 2010). These are, however, mostly internally focused and often don't view utility performance from the customer's perspective. There is also no underlying theory that unites the collections performance indicators to provide a holistic view of utility performance.
This article presents a customer focused performance measurement approach. The emerging model presented in this article is based on ongoing research into customer service in water utilities through the Invisible Water Utility project. This article introduces two theoretical concepts and presents an emerging model to measure service quality in water utilities. This model provides a theoretical grounding for international standards on performance assessment for water utilities: ISO 24510 (2007) and ISO 24512 (2007): Guidelines for the assessment and for the improvement of the service to users and the Guidelines for the management of drinking water utilities and for the assessment of drinking water services.