Updated May 2022
Over the past year, we’ve been gathering feedback and insights from customers across our service area to get a deeper understanding of what they value and expect from us. These insights will help shape our 2023 Price Submission and 2022 Urban Water Strategy.
To everyone who’s contributed so far, thank you. Whether it’s been through one of the online surveys, workshops, or face-to-face interviews, your feedback has been invaluable.
We've been keen to hear from everyone in our community. We've gone to extra effort to help customers overcome barriers to participation - including assistance overcoming technology, language and disability barriers.
So far, we’ve heard from over 3,500 customers through a mix of online and face-to-face opportunities, including four major surveys, around 30 stakeholder interviews, 13 focus group workshops, and a 3.5 day customer summit.
We’ve heard our customers’ ideas, priorities and concerns about our organisation and the services we provide and we’re ensuring that our plans are customer-led and address what our customers have told us.
So far we’ve engaged and received feedback in seven main ways:
We collected information from 395 customer interactions, including face-to-face interviews, online and paper feedback forms and social media comments.
From the beginning, the most dominant theme we heard about and we’ve continued to explore with customers, is it’s important that we’re affordable and fair.
We also heard that it’s most important to our customers that we are:
These key insights are largely consistent with what we heard when we engaged with our customers for our 2018 Price Submission. Based on what our customers said this time, we’re proposing to make a minor change to the way we present these values, separating our 2018 ‘prepare and protect’ value into ‘be environmentally responsible’ and ‘plan for the future’.
Our six key customer outcomes are proposed to be:
During this stage, our customers told us that they actively try to keep their water use down. They said they think we have an important role to play in educating people about how to conserve water and planning to meet future challenges.
These insights were then further explored in our customer workshops for the Price Submission and Urban Water Strategy.
We also heard from another 500-600 people through our 2021 annual customer satisfaction survey and the Water Services Association of Australia’s biannual 2021 customer preferences survey, providing further insights and data to help validate and confirm our next steps.
A total of 69 customers participated in our ten Price Submission focus group workshops, including 15 customers from cultural and linguistically diverse backgrounds and 14 customers who have experienced financial difficulty.
Here’s a summary of some of the things we heard from customers in the workshops.
Be affordable and fair
Be involved in the community
Be easy to deal with
Be environmentally responsible
Plan for the future
Do your job well
We held three Urban Water Strategy workshops with 27 customers ranging in ages, genders and locations.
From these workshops we learnt that our customers think:
While the primary focus of these workshops was to develop insights for our Urban Water Strategy, we also gathered insights which have
helped to augment and validate insights gathered through some of our other engagement activities.
We ran an online Customer Preferences Survey to gain more insights into our customers’ preferences and initiatives that could be further explored for potential inclusion in our submission, including performance indicators and service standards.
The questions in the survey were designed to:
The key insights included:
The survey findings helped shaped the questions we then took to the customer summit.
Our Customer Reference Group attended an independently facilitated session where they considered the topics of bill control and tariff structure. These issues had emerged as a high priorities for our customers through our stage two engagement activities and our customer workshops.
The group considered previous research, including insights from our customer preferences survey, and case studies before reaching consensus on the two topics.
Topic 1: What options should Gippsland Water pursue to help customers better control their bills?
Consensus: The group agreed that it was a good idea to pursue the functionality that customers have expressed interest in through an app, as long as we provide education and support for customers on how to use it and that it can be delivered at a low cost.
Topic 2: Should Gippsland Water continue to investigate changes to the fixed/variable tariff structure?
Consensus: The group agreed that Gippsland Water should not continue to investigate a change to the tariff structure.
We held an online customer summit over three weekends with 30 customers ranging in age, gender, level of financial difficulty and locations.
The summit was a deliberative process, which meant participants:
The group deliberated on three key questions, which have the potential to have a material future bill impact.
After extensive deliberation, consensus was reached and the panel made seven recommendations:
What is the fairest way to charge for the cost of infrastructure and services used by major industry?
What is the fairest way to share the cost of new connections to our network?
Who should pay for the cost of maintaining recreational facilities at places we source water from by don’t own or manage (Blue Rock Reservoir, Lake Glenmaggie and Cowwarr Weir)?
We promised to the panel that we’ll aim to implement their recommendations to the maximum extent possible and we’re now working through the detail and implications of each.
We’ll close the loop with the customer summit panel in July to share how
we’ve applied their recommendations in developing our submission.
Our engagement program over the last 18 months has been co-designed with input from customers and stakeholders.
To further understand our customers’ priorities,
issues, concerns and preferences, we’re continuing to speak to our stakeholders
across the region. This includes residential customers, First Nations people,
Traditional Owners, community groups, consumer advocates, disability agencies,
domestic violence support groups, neighbourhood house/homeless, financial
support agencies, other authorities and major customers.
We’re now bringing together the insights from what our customers have told us over the last year to inform the development of our Price Submission.
In June, we’ll collaborate with our Customer Reference Group to further develop and recommend customer performance indicators (outputs) and Guaranteed Service Levels.
In July, we’ll close the loop with our customer summit panel by sharing with them the key directions we propose to include in our submission, and demonstrating how we’ve responded to their recommendations.
We’ll then share a directions paper with the community to allow everyone another opportunity to have their say, before we make our submission to the Essential Services Commission in September 2022.
Our Urban Water Strategy has been submitted
to the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) for
consideration and we are now awaiting approval.
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