We’re proud to be a customer-centric organisation. We’re funded by our customers and we recognise that we have a responsibility to deliver the services they want and expect.
We undertook the deepest, broadest and most meaningful engagement with our customers than ever before in preparation for our 2023-28 Price Submission. Through engagement activities over two years, we gained important insight from our customers about communication and engagement.
We heard that our customers:
- want to be involved in decisions that affect them
- value our visibility and our role in the community
- think we have an important role to play in education – not just school education but also broader community education about relevant issues.
This framework aims to build on the momentum gathered through our Price Submission engagement. It will help us embed the ongoing engagement, education and meaningful communication that our customers want and expect from us.
Used well, this framework will help to strengthen our reputation and community presence, leading to improved community trust and perception of value.
All external communication and engagement will aim to contribute to reinforcing our overall brand and positioning objectives to be seen and believed as a trusted local community partner.
The purpose of this framework is to better enable our organisation to engage meaningfully and communicate effectively with our customers and the broader community.
Regular opportunities that allow our community to genuinely inform and influence our business planning will help to establish ourselves as a trusted community partner.
This framework outlines the tools, methods and channels available to us to help us achieve this.
It also outlines how the insights gathered from our customers will feed into our corporate strategic planning cycle.
We’ll use this framework to identify and use the right communication and engagement methods and channels for our projects. This will strengthen our customer-centricity and community influence on our business.
This document adds to, but does not replace our Corporate Communications Policy and Sponsorship Policy. It is intended to complement our Corporate Stakeholder Engagement Plan and our Customer Experience Roadmap, which are both expected to be finalised in 2023-24.
How we use insights from engagement
We use customer and community insights in strategic business planning as well as indicators of our performance. With that in mind, there are essentially two dimensions to the insights we gather from our customers. The first is around their priorities and expectations of us, to inform our planning and decision-making (forward looking). The second is their perceptions of our performance (backward looking).
We use our knowledge of our customers and community, built over time through our interactions, as well as through data and research about our community to inform our communication and engagement approach.
Communication and engagement objectives
Effective communication and engagement with our community will help to achieve the following objectives:
- Increased community trust in our organisation
- Enhanced reputation in the community
- Customer-centric strategies, plans and service delivery
Objectives one and two are measureable through existing surveys – our annual customer satisfaction survey and the quarterly customer perception robocall surveys carried out by the Essential Services Commission (ESC).
Customer-centricity can be measured through the amount and level of customer involvement in developing our strategies, plans and projects. This can be captured in our engagement record.
Communication and engagement principles.
We communicate and engage with our community and our customers, in a way that is clear, meaningful and inclusive. We are open and transparent, friendly and easy to deal with. We use our written style guide to keep us on track to create engaging, helpful content.
We offer our customers and our community genuine opportunities to influence our business. We ensure our engagement opportunities are aligned with the Victorian Government’s Principles for Public Engagement and are:
- Engagement activities have clear objectives
- the opportunities are genuine – insights and findings will be considered in decision making
- Accessible – allows full participation for those who want to be involved, including actively identifying and removing barriers to participation
- Representative – we aim to involve participants who represent the diverse community we serve, going further to prevent underrepresentation of minority groups.
- Multiple ways to get involved
- Co-designed engagement, where possible
- Participants understand what they can and can’t influence – and why
- Background information about the project and engagement process is explained and readily available to participants
- Accessible, relevant, tailored and timely information about engagement opportunities is communicated to the community and stakeholders
- There is ample time for people to get involved
- Purpose, scope and objectives of engagement are clear from the planning stage. Risks are understood and mitigated.
- Privacy, data, security and safety protections are in place
- Requests for more information or concerns from stakeholders are addressed
- Participants are advised how their input affected the final outcome/decision
- Engagement is measured or evaluated for continuous improvement.
- Engagement activities create value for our customers, the community and our business.
- The value of participants and their time is recognised.
Customer engagement groups
We have two dedicated customer and community groups that allow customers to continuously influence and be involved in our work. These dedicated groups are in addition to engagement opportunities and channels that are open to all members of the public.
Customer Reference Group
Initially established to oversee and contribute to the engagement for our 2023-28 Price Submission, our Customer Reference Group (CRG) meets around four times a year.
The group works collaboratively with us to ensure that customer priorities, issues and expectations are understood and reflected in our strategic decisions. The CRG also has an important role in validating our annual performance reporting (from 2023-24 onwards).
Made up of diverse members from our community, each member of the group contributes their insight and experience. Members must be Gippsland Water customers and are appointed on their ability to represent broad customer views.
Read the full Terms of Reference.
Customer Sounding Board
Our Customer Sounding Board is a group of customers and community members who share their views to help guide our decision-making.
Members of our sounding board receive invitations to participate in engagement activities, such as focus groups and surveys and ad hoc activities to enable customer-centric design of our projects and initiatives.
The sounding board can be mobilised quickly to support our engagement needs. The group also helps us by identifying changing evolving customer views, including on customer priorities and expectations and our customer outcomes.
Read the full Terms of Reference.
Campaigns and community education
We have an important role to play in educating our community. This includes school-based education as well as broader community education.
We run annual community education program, which includes campaigns and events on topics including:
- Tap water promotion
- Water conservation
- Support for our customers
These are the key topics that emerged as most important to our customers through our extensive 2023 Price Submission engagement program. Each campaign is supported by a strategy and implementation plan, which will deliver education and campaign activities every year between 2023 and 2028.
Other areas of focus may include campaigns to help our customers better understand our business. These could include campaigns on wastewater treatment / what can go down the drain.
Our community education and campaigns are delivered through our multiple communication channels (see table p6). The messages and branding are consistent with our school education program, when appropriate. This supports our whole of community education approach.
Each campaign includes measurable objectives and indicators that we will use to evaluate its effectiveness.
Communication and engagement cycle
We use a cyclical model of communication and engagement (see over page) which guides our annual communication and engagement activities and informs our corporate and strategic planning.
The cycle relies on customer inputs, such as research, which we use to understand customer sentiment, perceptions and priorities. Using these insights, we can focus our efforts to ensure we’re keeping pace with evolving customer perceptions and delivering the services our customers want and expect.
The communication and engagement cycle helps us ensure we:
- incorporate customer insight and inputs into our planning
- deliver timely and focused communications and campaigns
- communicate effectively with our customers
Each year, around March, the Communications and Engagement team will produce a Community Insights report, which summarises insights that the business can use to inform its planning and reporting. The Community Insights report will be a key mechanism to drive customer-centricity in planning and delivering our services.
Deliberate planning and dedicated engagement activities embedding in significant major projects (such as our top 10 capital projects) and strategies (such as pricing submissions and Urban Water Strategies) are carried out in addition to the activities in the regular cycle.
Our Board Directors will be involved in engagement activities based on their strategic relevance and significance, for example price submission engagement activities.
The Communications and Engagement team support areas across the business in planning and delivering appropriate communication and engagement activities for their projects and strategies.