Working together

Working together

As a team, our productive, respectful relationships with customers, regulators and other stakeholders are central to delivering valued services. It is vital we understand and support our customers.

Customer services online

Public expectations continue to evolve. Customers of today are seeking responsive service, accessible information and more opportunities to efficiently interact with us online. In September 2017 we launched mySAWater, a new online portal offering our customers the ability to:

  • receive eBills
  • pay their bills online
  • view their bill and payment history
  • update their account and personal details
  • view their water use, with comparison data available
  • manage payment extensions and direct debit
  • use their preferred device, 24/7 to access their account
  • be supported with our customer service team one-on-one through a new live webchat function.

In addition to providing a great new service for our account holding customers, this initiative has delivered business efficiencies such as lowered costs for printing and posting bills, all contributing to keeping prices low. As at 30 June 2018, 61 490 properties were registered with mySAWater.

During 2017-18, the following improvements were made to our online services:

  • a new and prominent interactive online map giving the public information about current faults
  • automated account balance checks were introduced, available 24 hours a day, seven days a week through our Customer Care Centre phone number
  • SMS messages for customer satisfaction surveys and payment reminders
  • customer refunds, when needed, provided by electronic funds transfer.

In addition, mySmartWater for business customers was released, helping more than 200 of our customers monitor and manage their water use and accounts online with real time data and average consumption rates in hourly, daily and weekly increments. Feedback has been overwhelmingly positively, with customers appreciating the new opportunity to make best use of their supply and better manage their water costs by identifying and addressing anomalies such as leaks or faulty infrastructure, as well as building more efficient water practices.

Supporting customers with bill payments

Our Customer Assist Program helps residential customers experiencing short and long-term financial difficulty. By working together with these customers to manage their service costs through staggered bill payments, we develop an agreed flexible plan and ensure regular review checks to provide support.

An average of 2 360 customers participated in our Customer Assist Program each month during 2017-18. Through additional incentive payment support, 1 571 customers completed the program by fulfilling their agreed payment plans and returning to paying their bills quarterly.

This program proudly aligns with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and is part of our commitment to reducing inequality, working in partnership, no poverty and providing clean water and sanitation.

Talking all things water with our customers

Throughout the financial year we worked closely with our customers, through a comprehensive range of engagement activities, to gather their input about the future provision of water services to inform Our Plan 2020-2024, our operation and infrastructure investment plan.

Our economic regulator, the Essential Services Commission of South Australia (ESCOSA), requires provision of our business plan every four years. ESCOSA uses this to determine allowable revenue for that period, in effect revenue we are able to collect from our customers through charging for our water and sewerage services.

Together with our customers, we explored what they value and prioritise for the future of their water and sewerage services. During 2017-18 we:

  • engaged with approximately 180 customers through workshops held from October to December 2017, as well as our business and residential Customer Advisory Groups
  • launched our Water Talks engagement-specific website, attracting 300 registrations from customers
  • formed a representative 22-member Customer Working Group to help us as we prepare Our Plan 2020-2024. This group will work closely with us in the latter stages of developing this plan.

In April and May 2018, a public survey open to all South Australians asked What matters to you? and provided a range of service options with different cost impacts for customers to consider. More than 5 000 customers had their say about the future of water services by completing the survey.

To promote the survey and encourage participation from a good mix of our customer base we:

  • hosted drop-in sessions with multicultural communities
  • presented 11 community displays and drop-in sessions around the state to talk to people about the survey
  • promoted the survey through social media, radio and print media across the state
  • contacted approximately 80 000 customers directly, including business, trade waste and residential customers
  • gathered qualitative feedback from Aboriginal elders and their communities across the state
  • held focus groups to work with small, medium and large businesses to strengthen our understanding of the survey data.

The information gathered will be used in 2018-19 as we develop Our Plan 2020-2024 ahead of its submission to ESCOSA in October 2019.

Consistent customer claims management

This financial year we have improved our customers’ experience in the event of damage caused by our infrastructure by simplifying our claims management process. Customers are assigned a case manager for their claim giving them a single point of contact with tailored support.

Improved services for developers

South Australia’s building and property development industry has particular needs and requirements for their water and sewerage services. Considerable engagement with our customers and stakeholders in this industry was undertaken during the financial year resulting in a range of improvements. We held 16 consultative workshops with stakeholders to gather their important feedback. As a result of this consultative work, we have:

  • introduced a new interim contractual agreement for developers – known as the Development Agreement Formal Instrument – which enables them to secure approvals before starting construction works
  • initiated ‘kick-off’ meetings to be held before a developer starts site works to introduce all relevant parties and enable open communication.

We also streamlined our charges which will deliver welcome savings for developers from 1 July 2018.

Building our reputation in the community

Significant work was undertaken during 2017-18 to improve how our customers and the communities in which we operate view and understand our organisation. A refresh of the brand for SA Water, Australian Water Quality Centre, and Water Engineering Technologies was completed to create clarity for the South Australian community. To reflect the change, we updated our online presence, uniforms, and customer communications. All new internal communications and signage now aligns with the refreshed brand and we continue to implement it across customer facing materials.

Demonstrating our deep respect for the connection that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have with the land and water, Aboriginal Connection Branding has also been developed in consultation with Aboriginal communities across the state.

We have prepared a blueprint for communications outlining our approach and principles to best communicate with our customers and our people. It maps the range, purpose and process for our communications channels used to talk and engage with our people, our customers and the public, including social media. This enables clear and consistent communication on our customers’ channels of choice.

In 2017-18 an organisation-wide engagement framework was developed. It includes the principles, approach and support mechanisms to empower our people to consistently and effectively work with stakeholders and develop positive professional relationships.

Our Customer Contact Centre has maintained customer satisfaction with results remaining consistent across the financial year and a slight upward trend in the fourth quarter.

ABW transforms our physical workplace

Activity based working (ABW) is a transformational change for organisations that provides people with a choice of different types of office furniture and work areas for use dependent on the task at hand. ABW has been adopted in our Adelaide office, bringing our CBD-based people into one building and in-step with established regional work practices.

In all, 240 people relocated and 1 250 adopted a new way of working which has increased collaboration, improved workplace culture and engagement, as well as delivered benefits to our customers through cost savings and improved services.

Billing system modernisation

Our billing system continues to be maintained and upgraded and in 2017-18, we scoped our future billing capability requirements. System modernisation is part of our billing roadmap that reduces technology risks by ensuring we operate modern IT environments and applications.

Better understanding our customers

To develop a deeper understanding of our customers and ensure we design and deliver services that respond to their expectations, we have further refined customer profile groups. This complements our direct engagement activity for our future business plan and strengthens ongoing and day-to-day decision-making across the organisation.

Odour control technology at Port Adelaide

In May 2018 we installed an Australian-made system which uses three-stage odour control technology at the Port Adelaide Wastewater Pump Station, to give local residents a long-term solution for sewage smells detected around the facility.

The work to improve the pump station follows feedback from residents who live in the area. We worked with them as we developed the upgrade design, including the landscaping and colour scheme for the system.

Two biological processes, called biotrickling and bio filter, remove around 98 per cent of the sewage odours, while the third and final stage uses activated carbon to remove any other lingering smells. The project is due to be completed in 2018-19.

Supporting our community

In October 2017 we became the first South Australian location sponsor for Orange Sky Australia, a homeless charity providing free laundry and social support services to people living on the streets.

In April 2018 we launched our new Community Partnership Program which offers grants of up to $10 000 to support grassroots and community groups across South Australia.

The program is open to more than 4 700 hard-working South Australian community organisations whose activities have a link to water and complement our values of working together, delivering safely, and being accountable, genuine and innovative every day.

Applications were received in 2017-18 with grants available from July 2018.

Planning Kangaroo Island’s water future

Activity to refresh a long-term water supply plan for Kangaroo Island started in 2017-18. A Community Reference Group, comprising representatives from 18 community, business and industry associations, helped lead the first phase of planning by working with us to examine current issues and opportunities and act as a conduit to their stakeholders.

An updated long-term plan will consider the current and projected water supply and demand, as well as possible future upgrade options for a reliable and sustainable supply which meets residential and commercial purposes for the next 25 years and beyond.

Working together with the reference group, we used an analysis tool which balanced a wide range of influencing factors such as cost, environment and social impacts. Using the insights gained we developed several water supply options which were presented to the broader Kangaroo Island community at drop-in sessions during May 2018.

This activity will continue into 2018-19 as we work to finalise the updated long-term plan.

Community programs and events

Our involvement in community events and student learning programs continued throughout 2017-18. These included:

  • 8 283 students and their teachers participating in our Brainwave program and learning about the importance of water as a resource, the water cycle, ways to overcome scarcity and how we can all contribute to sustainability
  • 2 365 people toured the Adelaide Desalination Plant and Kauwi Interpretive Centre
  • 1 177 people attended community presentations about water services and toured our treatment plants
  • our popular Quench Benches providing drinking water to more than a million people at a range of public events throughout South Australia. More than 10 000 people had the chance to see and talk about water and sewerage science with us and ask us questions at events including the Royal Adelaide Show, regional Field Days, and the annual Science Alive! exhibition.
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