Building a customer-centric culture across an entire organisation can be challenging for regulated monopolies who do not hold direct relationships with end-users. Gas distributors for example, depend much on their retail partners and service providers to manage customer relationships, which is why processes and safety have traditionally been a primary focus.
However, Multinet Gas, as one of three gas distributors in Victoria supplying over 710,000 customers, has been turning the spotlight on customer outcomes – with a robust Voice of Customer program.
Listening to your customer
“Let’s face it. Poor customer service does not make good business sense,” said Multinet Gas marketing and stakeholder engagement manager, James Wong, explaining that poor experiences simply highlighted potential issues that may require extra time, resources and cost to correct.
Describing the results of the CSBA Voice of Customer program, Mr Wong said it was remarkable how easily Multinet Gas was able to gain valuable customer insights using a streamlined process to capture customer feedback and comments.
“We could see our customer satisfaction scores when we logged into the CSBA portal. We could drill down into detail, by transaction type, right down to reading the feedback verbatim,” he said.
“We got to see where we were not meeting the customer’s requirements, which meant looking at the comments and identifying any potential gaps, trends or opportunities to modify operations. And we got to understand ‘Ease’ from the customer’s perspective. If they found it difficult to achieve what they wanted, it could be due to operational issues which we needed to address. Sometimes this may be with external stakeholders like retailers.”
Customer Experience expert CSBA account director of utilities, Sudipta Dutt, said that in the first year of the program, Multinet Gas made a nine per cent improvement in CSAT scores, which was outstanding, compared to five per cent for the industry benchmark. It continues to make incremental improvements since 2018.
“Before you even start thinking about customer initiatives, you need to know your baseline, where you actually stand. And not from where you think you stand,” Ms Dutt said.
“How are you performing? And in which areas are your performing well or not so well from your customer’s perspective? That’s where you need to begin, to ensure that the improvement targets and deadlines you set are effective.”
Working on gas distribution pipes. Photos supplied by Multinet Gas Networks for use in Utility
Deep diving into insights
Good customer insights allow organisations to delve deeper when planning for improvement initiatives.
By identifying the key drivers of satisfaction for all customer interactions, Multinet Gas was able to develop initiatives based on the short-term and long-term systematic themes, while using the macro tracker to follow the progress and impact of each initiative on customer satisfaction.
For example, recognising the need to improve communication and duration as a priority. At the same time, working on a process for certain teams to take ownership of the issues.
Mr Wong said, “We tracked our CSAT performance in the three interactions of new connections, unplanned interruptions and planned interruptions. In some instances, we identified service gaps and worked hard with other areas of the business including our delivery partners to action them.”
“In the area of new connections, we collaborated with builders, developers, retailers and other distributors to streamline the process across Victoria. We created new infographic collateral that provided consistency among the three gas distributors in Victoria, so customers could get clarity on how to apply for a new connection and how to be site-ready when our field team arrived.”
As a result, Multinet Gas lifted its customer satisfaction score for new connections by over 20% over 24 months. However, this is only the start of its CX journey of continuous improvement.
The CSBA Voice of Customer dashboard has been crucial, according to Multinet Gas, who describes it as an important tool to capture customer feedback.
“A dynamic platform becomes more powerful when customised to your needs,” said Mr Wong.
“Because you can easily select the right data you need, present it to the right people across the layers, at the right time, to drive change. We call it ‘socialising’ or ‘democratising’ your insights and sharing this to all stakeholders.”
Ms Dutt agrees. She says the Key Driver Analysis, for example, was instrumental in understanding the hierarchy of what’s driving customer satisfaction, so Multinet Gas could prioritise and invest wisely in improvements. It continues to measure the Return on Investment.
Powering collaborative partnerships
Effective partnerships are critical in a journey of continuous customer experience improvements, where being agile is significant.
Do you have CX specialists who understand your industry? Are your values aligned? And have they got both the technological and the human touch?
“Customer satisfaction scores and targets are now part of our corporate KPIs and cascaded down into all business performance plans,” said Mr Wong.
“Customer Experience is indeed the ultimate policy lever. This is what it takes to become a truly customer centric organisation.”
And as Multinet Gas continues to work on more improvements, Ms Dutt said CX is about consistent listening and action – changing the gears from ‘talking mode’ to ‘action mode’.
“We meet monthly with the Multinet Gas team of CX managers to evaluate the results,” Ms Dutt said.
“We monitor trends, look at the impact of specific initiatives, and discuss internal and external factors to strategise for the future.”
Mr Wong said, “Powerful collaboration is about having an expert team you trust, bring new ideas and support, in your journey to make Customer Experience an organisational-wide Business as Usual practice. To enable us to build stronger relationships with our regulators. And to improve our business, customer and operational outcomes.”
Watch their video on the CSBA Voice of Customer dashboard here.