Bringing your customers on a journey in a time of change [Webinar Roundup]

Customers are at the heart of all businesses, including water utilities which provide essential services to the community.

How can water utilities strengthen customer relationships in the midst of change?

That’s the topic we explored with Dr Anna Lorenzetto from Yarra Valley Water (YVW) last month as we kicked off AquaLAB’s 2020 web series.

About Dr Anna Lorenzetto

Anna is the Divisional Manager, Customer Experience at Yarra Valley Water. She leads a team of 11 to design a purposeful customer experience across the organisation.

Anna has extensive experience as an industrial designer, design anthropologist and doctoral researcher about experience design in the public sector. By combining these, she develops human-centred approaches for understanding the intersection between complex service systems and ethics for the delivery of customer experience.

Webinar overview

Over 45 participants joined us to learn how Yarra Valley Water’s focus on customers has evolved their business and what methods and processes they used to get clear on the customer lifecycle.

Anna talked about the guiding principles of Yarra Valley Water’s CX, how CX tools such as journey maps enable all areas of the business to take ownership of the customer experience, and how to monitor real-time listening and customer feedback to adapt your services.

The highlights

Below are the highlights from our conversation with Anna.

Why is customer experience important for water utilities?

  • When your business is about the health and wellbeing of people, providing a great customer experience is the right thing to do. At the end of the day, utilities are there to serve people.
  • Customer dissatisfaction shows there is something broken in the system, and shines a light on where those issues are if you listen for them. Improving customer satisfaction means you can reduce support costs and other inefficiencies in the system.
  • Putting customers first and mapping their journeys provides data that informs business planning, which in turn creates efficiencies within the business.

How do you define customer experience at Yarra Valley Water?

  • Customer experience is the sum of a person’s experience with a utility. That sum total comes from brand, it comes from service delivery, and it comes from a service interaction.
  • It’s everything that a person might experience from your enterprise whether that’s out in the field with someone that’s putting in a new pipe or whether it’s a bill that’s in their email inbox.

Who is responsible for the delivery of customer experience?

  • It doesn’t matter how far away or close to a customer you perceive your functional role in the business to be. At the end of the day, everything we do is in service to a customer who is central to all your processes and all your delivery.
  • Everyone in YVW is responsible for the customer experience. A person in a field crew is just as critical to customer experience as the person taking the call in the call centre.

How do you apply your CX Principles to customers in a time of change?

  • Ease, care and responsiveness are basic principles that cut across all human experience and they are agnostic to context. The principles should be able to flex and work equally well in periods of intense change and flux.
  • The trick is to choose the right principles to design with and to embed into an experience.
  • “The work that we do has to come from a deeply empathetic place,” said Anna, who went on to say that she saw that in spades in the 2 weeks following massive job losses due to COVID-19.

How do you engage the whole business in the delivery of customer experience?

  • Customer experience is a horizontal journey in the business. The entire enterprise is behind the customer, so CX is not the lone ranger in socialising the criticality of putting customers at the centre because we have an entire enterprise where the culture is built around that.
  • Have tactical tools that remind people that customers are always at the centre: Checklists, journey maps etc) to keep CX top of mind.Have employees participate in co-design sessions, service blueprint creation, and customer journey mapping. It lets them see the horizontal journey of the customer.
  • It’s ideal to have project teams considering the customer at the front end of any project, so having mechanisms built into design processes makes a difference and means that CX is embedded in business planning processes.

How do you use CX insights and metrics in business planning?

  • Use detailed customer journey maps for business planning and for work prioritisation.
  • The customer pain points identified in the journey mapping process allows YVW to aggregate a programmatic view of work so they can prioritisation the effort.
  • This enables the organisation to work on what matters and doing the right thing.

What are your tips on continuous improvement of customer experience?

  • Monitor, monitor, monitor. If you’re able to monitor how you’re tracking the customer experience on a regular basis, you’ll be able to see where you might be going off track.
  • Adapting quickly has required Yarra Valley Water’s CX team members to jump on calls and listen to what customers were saying — real time research and monitoring of expectations is imperative to stay ahead of customer issues.
Bringing your customers on a journey in a time of change with Dr Anna Lorenzetto as a visual sketch

Participant feedback from the first webinar was decisive. They loved what Anna had to share and found it really valuable to their own organisations.

Stay tuned for our June webinar on the theme of Stretching our Innovation Dollar Further.

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