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Do you know your customers of the future?

Who are the customers of the future, what do they want and how can water utilities best serve them? These were just a few of the questions KPMG and the Water Services Association of Australia (WSAA) set out to answer in a new report.

By reviewing existing segmentation research and interviewing customers, the report co-authors, KPMG Power and Utilities Partner Cassandra Hogan and WSAA Customer and Community Manager Evelyn Rodrigues, created six personas that represent the urban water customers of the future.

These range from the ‘mindful millennial’ who is interested in technology and less concerned about her consumption levels, to the ‘stable and secure’ pensioner who is actively engaged in the community.

Cassandra Hogan and Evelyn Rodrigues will present their findings at Ozwater'19 in Melbourne in May. Click here to register.

Based on these personas, the pair identified four areas that should be key focuses for water utilities in the coming decade: reliability of service, cost savings, connecting with the individual and sustainability.

“We are in the age of the customer, where industries that not only meet rapidly changing customer expectations, but can pre-empt their every need, will be the ones equipped to survive as automation and smart infrastructure reimagine cities and experiences,” Hogan said.

“No matter the demographic, the future customer will expect an empathetic, personalised service from a proactive service provider who supports their local community and protects future generations.”

The pair will present their findings, including how the motivations, behaviours and expectations of urban water customers will change over the next five to 10 years, at Ozwater’19 in May.

They said it is important for water utilities to understand their customers’ needs in order to find the friction points that matter most. This helps businesses hit the ‘Goldilocks zone’, where resources are spent addressing issues that will give the best return on investment.

Hogan and Rodrigues will also discuss the mega trends impacting the water industry, which range from artificial intelligence to climate change and an increasingly interconnected global economy.

“For the water industry, shifts in social, economic, technological and environmental factors are impacting the operating model and customer experience,” Rodrigues said.

“Advanced utilities are moving from reactive to proactive business models to anticipate customer enquiries and resolve them quickly.”

She said utilities need to plan for Australia’s changing population, which will see a generation of baby boomers retiring, the growing influence of millennials and new migrants settling in some regions.

“Very different services and infrastructure will be required to accommodate retirees, immigrants and millennials,” Rodrigues said.

“Water utilities will also need to inspire a new generation of talent.”

View the full Ozwater’19 program here.