#BetterTogether – Collaborating across the energy supply chain to improve the experience of customers connecting to gas in Victoria

New gas connection requirements have differed between each distribution business across Victoria making it complicated in some cases and not consistent for customers and others in the supply chain such as building developers. Through the architecture of the Energy Charter, energy distributors Australian Gas Networks (AGN), Multinet Gas Networks (MGN), and AusNet Services collaborated with retailers Origin Energy, AGL and EnergyAustralia to run a trial and now fully implement the single gas connection process with all retailers; making  it easier for customers to connect to gas in Victoria, irrespective of their postcode area, improving the customer experience.

“Having different processes for new gas connections across three energy distribution networks has been a long-standing issue in Victoria and was further highlighted in the results of each distribution business Customer Satisfaction Survey. We wanted to come together to agree on a single process to improve the experience of our customers and we’re making great progress.” Nadia Janevski – Manager, Customer & Support Services at APA Group (AGN Service Partner).

Collaboration began in 2019 where the three Victorian gas distribution networks, AGN, MGN, and AusNet Services, came together to co-create a site readiness document to standardise ‘site ready’ requirements and technical differences across the state. Site readiness, for example, means when the site is ready for a gas service to be constructed, ie no scaffolding, no building material, clean site and safe access etc… on the building site.

The site readiness document standards were then shared more broadly with builders to contribute to the feedback loop and improvement.  This was key in ensuring we were focussing on their problem and not what we thought was their problem.

“There were some challenges, but we all had a vision and were able to work together to standardise site readiness into one document and to improve the connection process for all our customers.” James Wong, Marketing & Stakeholder Engagement Manager at Australian Gas Infrastructure Group

The second stage of the collaboration focused on co-creating a ‘Vic New Connection 10 step process’ to ensure energy distributors could connect customers at the right time and meet their expectations. This primarily improves the experience of residential customers making up approximately 80% of new gas connections.

The ‘Vic New Connection 10 step process includes Builders Information I Multinet Gas and Applying for Your Gas Service I Australian Gas Networks.

Buy-in from energy retailers was easy as a streamlined process, and consistent clear communication, helps them deliver a better service to customers. Customer support teams in call centres can now follow one new gas connections process, rather than three. This will really improve the experience of customers who are connecting gas for the first time.

From here, the focus will be on developing a communication and engagement strategy to embed the process across Victoria. #BetterTogether champions are undertaking activities such as communicating to and educating builders and making the process available for download on distributor websites. They will also share the process through different channels to get the message out more broadly.

Nadia Janevski – Manager, Customer & Support Services at APA Group said “It’s a work in progress, changing behaviours takes time, but we’re getting there.”