Sydney, Barangaroo

IMPROVING THE DEVELOPER EXPERIENCE WITH WATER UTILITIES  
Creating tailored offerings for developers
A Kirkwood
Publication Date (Web): 18 October 2017
DOI: https://doi.org/10.21139/wej.2017.032


Urban centres throughout Australia are attempting to cope with very high levels of population growth. This growth means that the traditional mechanisms of providing housing is 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 is serviced without impacting the amenity of existing customers.  

It is projected that over 36,000 dwellings will be constructed in greater Sydney each year for the next 5 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 on the way that a water utility assesses the servicing and connection of these developments as the traditional approach and associated business processes is based on greenfield servicing.

Added to this, industry expectations have dramatically changed. Developers don’t believe that the experience they encountered when having an infill development’s water servicing assessed was satisfactory. It was typified by poor communication, multiple contacts, no access to decision-makers and unclear accountabilities for decisions. This feedback is not in step with the communities expectations of service industries, or Sydney Water’s strategic intent of having Customer at the Heart of what we do.    
  
In response, Sydney Water studied a study of the developers 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 vies on the organisations business processes. The key finding was that developers wanted to be able to deal directly with Sydney Water. While they understood that intermediaries played an important part in various phases of a development, they felt that Sydney Water had pushed too much interaction on to the intermediaries, whereas many issues could have been resolved much earlier if the developer could have met with the utility. The overwhelming 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 painpoints highlighted that the following change components are required:

A Direct Relationship with Developers: changing the mindset of the organisation so that developers are treated as business partners that create new customers for Sydney Water. 

The Customer Value Proposition: Provide 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: create a new online system where developers can interact without the need for engaging an agent. 

It is essential that utilities operating in todays 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. 

 

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