GWMWater has enhanced customer experience with the launch of a Customer Portal – empowering customers with more information about their water supply than ever before. Available on various electronic devices, the Customer Portal allows customers to view recent and historical water use and set up automatic alerts to notify them of high usage or leaks.
Following completion of the Wimmera Mallee Pipeline and anticipating the future needs of its customers, GWMWater started a journey to become an advanced digital utility. This was largely driven by necessity given the vast geographical footprint of GWMWater’s operational area – covering approximately 25 per cent of Victoria.
Rural customers were upgraded to digital meters between 2015 and 2016, and a customer portal was launched for rural stock and domestic customers later that year. The rural portal allowed customers to track water use against their water allowances, enabling them to make adjustments or trade water as necessary.
The portal also enabled rural landholders to ensure water was running through meters in remote paddocks, without having to physically check them, as well as alerting them to potential leaks where water should not be passing through the meter.
In 2019, GWMWater started replacing 29,000 water meters with an all-in-one device and retrofitted 3,000 meters with an electronic device across the corporation’s urban operational area.
GWMWater’s Executive Manager of Strategic Planning and Performance, Sally Marshall, led a cross-functional team to add value for urban customers by delivering enhancements to the customer portal.
The team collated and considered customer feedback and enhancement suggestions to inform the development of the portal, with primary areas of focus being: streamlining the sign-up process, ‘nickname’ functionality, water use in dollar value, and displaying water restrictions and where meters have non-potable supplies.
A two-factor authentication feature was implemented and eliminated the need for customers to complete a two-step process to set up a customer portal login and add their accounts using a registration code.
The new process maps customer data from GWMWater’s backend systems to issue an email directly to the customer, who simply activates their account by creating a password and then verifies their identity using a code sent to them by SMS message. Each water account ‘owned’ by that customer in GWMWater’s system is automatically displayed.
“Setting up an automatic sign-up process not only improves the customer experience, but the two-factor authentication process is validating and growing our database which will enable us to develop a more proactive customer communication strategy in the future,” Mrs Marshall said.
Extending portal functionality to urban customers
GWMWater implemented a phased rollout to urban customers to ensure the organisation’s resources and capability matched the anticipated demand.
Mrs Marshall said the first phase was a pilot program where 200 ‘early adopters’ were recruited to provide feedback on the sign-up process and functionality of the portal.
“We wanted to make sure we captured a cross-section of customers based on demographics and customer types to test the portal, and our first port of call was urban customers who had already attempted to sign up to the rural portal,” she said.
Participants were surveyed and asked to provide feedback on their experience. Of the 27 per cent of participants who completed the survey, 98 per cent said the automatic sign-up process was easy to follow, while two per cent required additional support from GWMWater to complete the process.
Eighty per cent of survey participants reported that they had logged back into the portal since completing the sign-up process and, 25 per cent had set up high water use or leak alerts. Ninety-two per cent said they would recommend the GWMWater Customer Portal to a friend.
At the completion of the pilot, 90 per cent of those registered for the pilot had successfully signed up for the portal. GWMWater used the learnings from the pilot to refine features and support materials prior to the rollout to the broader customer base.
GWMWater has issued activation to more than 10,000 urban customers to date, with a take-up rate of roughly 30 per cent. Customers receive a ‘warm-up’ email introducing the portal and providing information and support materials before they receive their activation link.
The new sign-up process increased the sign-up rate and, along with implementing learnings from the pilot, has reduced the number of calls for assistance. Urban customers now have access to more information about their water consumption than ever before.
Graeme Chenoweth from Murtoa said, “Being able to track our water usage will be handy for us to help spot any leaks, especially while we’re away. It will also be interesting to see how much water we’re using in the garden and the pool in warmer months.”
Since rollout to urban customers commenced in February the Customer Portal has issued:
- 1,334 high consumption alerts
- 695 potential leak alerts
- 161 low consumption alerts
- 155 rural water allowance alert
- 213 monthly water usage reports
- 762 weekly water usage reports
Over time, GWMWater will track Customer Portal take-up and use across key customer segments to understand who is adopting the portal and how it could deliver more tailored information and experiences.
And, for those less inclined to use the portal, digital meters enable the ability for customer service staff to proactively contact customers by phone to alert them to potential leaks.