The biggest issues facing Water Companies today

At the end of last month we invited our Australian Water customers to attend a virtual ‘roundtable’ style Working Group to discuss the key issues of customer engagement and operational excellence. Over 15 attendees from 7 water companies came along to present their thoughts on how they were tackling these key challenges, and hear a keynote session from Gentrack’s Chairman, Andy Green, who is also the chair of WaterAid UK, as well as an interview with the CEO of UK based Wave Utilities, Lucy Darch. Lucy focused on how her business had coped with the challenges of COVID-19 and how they’d managed customer servicing requirements and actively sought to support customers through the pandemic. Click here to watch her full interview with our Water Lead.

Overall, the session focused on the need to simplify how customers interact with their water supplier, as well as how the customer journey could be improved. Our first presenter discussed how they have managed to simplify over 800 customer facing tariffs down to 4, which created a far more straightforward customer experience, whilst also delivering business efficiencies. They highlighted the need to get the right information at the right time to customers, as context is everything – the wrong information at the wrong time can generate more inbound enquiries and create a poor customer experience.

Next, we looked at the role that Water Companies had to play in building a sense of community with their customers and discussed how they need a more complete view of the customer – not just an address and meter details! By collecting data every time a company interacts with a customer they can build a more complete picture of a customer’s future needs and preferred methods of interaction and can work on consistently improving the customer experience.

This was followed up with a discussion about how measuring customer experience could sometimes not give the full picture. We talked about how whilst looking at NPS gives a great measure of customer experience, it’s a very one-dimensional view and that looking behind what makes up that NPS score is key. It’s all very well creating a great manual process, but how can the business automate or make that process more efficient whilst still delivering the best result for the customer?

The results of our short survey of attendees were also interesting – with almost 50% of attendees highlighting that their biggest challenges during the last 12 months during COVID was around proactively communicating with customers, and ensuring vulnerable customers came forward for help. The biggest areas of attention for driving efficiency were around managing inbound customer enquiries and meter reads and billing.

These all came together with the key themes of focus for water companies today – the concepts of simplification and attention to the customer journey. By considering these together, companies were able to balance the often conflicting needs of operational efficiency and great customer experience.

We look forward to hosting our next session in a few months’ time. If you’d like to attend, then please get in touch with your Gentrack account team.

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