Water Journal : Current November 2017
www.awa.asn.au 70 HOW WATER UTILITIES CAN CREATE TAILORED SOLUTIONS FOR PROPERTY DEVELOPERS. Improving the developer experience with water utilities A Kirkwood Urban centres throughout Australia are attempting to cope with very high levels of population growth. This growth means the traditional mechanisms for providing housing are changing. While there are still high levels of land released for urban dwelling, Australians are getting used to the idea of living in smaller properties closer to central business districts. For water utilities, this creates challenges in ensuring that both greenfield and infill development are serviced without impacting the amenity of existing customers. It is projected that more than 36,000 dwellings will be constructed in greater Sydney each year for the next five years, with only a marginal tapering off after that. Over 55% of these new development proposals will be for infill development. This places a challenge for the way a water utility assesses the servicing and connection of these developments, as the traditional approach and associated business processes are based on greenfield servicing. Added to this, industry expectations have dramatically changed. Developers don't feel their experience with a water utility was satisfactory when having an infill development assessed. It was typified by executive summary customer experience poor communication, multiple contacts, no access to decision-makers and unclear accountabilities for decisions. This feedback is not in step with community expectations of service industries, or Sydney Water's strategic intent of having customer at the heart of what we do. In response, Sydney Water looked at a study of the developer journey to gain insights into their current pain points and expectations. The study involved in-depth interviews with developers, intermediaries (hydraulic consultants, plumbers and asset constructors) and staff to truly understand their issues, concerns and views on organisations' business processes. The key finding was that developers wanted to be able to deal directly with Sydney Water. Although they understood that intermediaries played an important part in various phases of a development, they felt that Sydney Water had pushed too much interaction onto intermediaries, whereas many issues could have been resolved much earlier if the developer could have met with the utility directly. The feedback from the research phase and customer interviews was that the developers felt that, due to the way interaction is currently managed, Sydney Water did not want a relationship with them. In response, Sydney Water is redefining its relationship with infill developers. The analysis of the developer's journey and their pain points highlighted that the following change components are required: A direct relationship with developers: Changing the mindset of the organisation so developers are treated as business partners that create new customers for Sydney Water. The customer value proposition: Providing a fully integrated end-to-end service that incorporates servicing requirements, asset protection requirements and connection approval in one application. This will also include the option of Sydney Water providing design and construction services to the development. A new channel: Creating a new online system where developers can interact without the need for engaging an agent. It is essential that utilities operating in today's market have robust mechanisms in place to gather customer insight and truly hear the voice of the customer. However, this insight is of no value unless there is a desire to use it to change how they operate. Andrew Kirkwood has worked in the water industry for more than 35 years, primarily in front-line customer servicing areas servicing developers and the non-residential sector. In that time he has been responsible for introducing many major customer experience improvement programs at Sydney Water. To read the full article, visit the Water e-Journal at bit.ly/water_ejournal Developers don't feel their experience with a water utility was satisfactory when having an infill development assessed.
Current August 2017