#BetterTogether - Know Your Customers and Communities - Shared Learning Platform

The 2019 Independent Accountability Panel’s Report recommended Energy Charter signatories provide a tighter focus on end-user customers and communities directly impacted by their activities rather than stakeholders in general.

As an outcome, Energy Charter signatories have focused greater efforts on understanding relevant groups of diverse customers. Knowing the customer includes ensuring their voice is heard at all levels of the business.

IAP2 Spectrum

The IAP2 Spectrum is a framework underpinned by seven core values for decision-focused, values-based public participation and has been used to assess and drive the Energy Charter signatory’s customer focused activities.

Better Case Examples

Below are better case examples categorised within the IAP2 Framework where Energy Charter signatories are getting to know their customers and communities, how this improves participation and what the improved customer outcomes are.  

For more information on any of the examples below, please contact The Energy Charter Director.

Inform

AGIG, used a series of community barbeques powered by hydrogen to raise awareness and gain feedback on the use of renewable hydrogen as an energy source.

How does this improve participation?

Hosting community barbeques provided both an informal engagement setting to help facilitate discussion and allowed a real demonstration of the technology. Hosting these barbeques also attracted greater in-person attendance.

Improved Customer Outcomes

Hosting community barbeques provided both an informal engagement setting to help facilitate discussion and allow a real demonstration of the technology.

Essential Energy has created a hub to share engagement learnings and resources.

How does this improve participation?

The hub has developed into a valuable resource for employees to share insights and uplift capability.

Improved Customer Outcomes

By sharing engagement resources and learnings, the hub increases the capability of the organisation to undertake meaningful engagement leading to better customer outcomes.

AGL, with the support of Scope Australia, has developed and is currently testing ‘Easy English’ versions of their energy efficiency guide and bill explainer to improve accessibility for people with a disability.

How does this improve participation?

Easy English versions help to overcome a barrier to participation, so everyone can be energy literate and make informed decisions.

Improved Customer Outcomes

Better understanding leads to customers having more control of their energy use and costs.

Origin’s mobile app provides its customers with a powerful tool to monitor their energy use, live chat to get help and assist with meter reading.

How does this improve participation?

It provides a platform that allows customers to participate at a time that suits them. The live-chat functionality has led to customer interaction doubling over the past year.

Improved Customer Outcomes

The app ensures customers are making informed decisions about their energy use. They can monitor usage, check predicted bills, view bill history and pay bills.

Customers can also see costs and consumption in a quarterly, monthly or daily view.

Consult

ActewAGL’s CEO led discussions on a range of initiatives to boost affordability and the capacity of vulnerable customers to manage their energy costs. These included the ‘Bring you bill day’ initiative.

How does this improve participation?

The two-way dialogue improved ActewAGL’s understanding of the most effective strategies for easing the impact of price increases, while ensuring that those on the frontline of service delivery were fully briefed on a new suite of measures, under ActewAGL’s Vulnerability Action Plan.

Improved Customer Outcomes

Direct contact with the CEO enable greater understanding of the actions that have greatest impact on prices.

Energy Queensland surveys 15,000 customers annually as part of its ‘Voice of the Customer’ program to measure customer perceptions of performance. This is complemented with a staff survey giving employees an opportunity to give their insights on customer culture and experience.

How does this improve participation?

What you measure matters. Involving staff to drive cultural change takes engagement out of the hands of the few and into the hands of the many. Formal market research is also an efficient way to gain the views of a large number of customers.

Improved Customer Outcomes

The results of the customer survey are reported monthly and annually to areas of the business most directly responsible for delivering customer driven outcomes.

APA developed a customer relationship strategy and survey to better understand their customers. By the end of 2019 the majority of APA’s Transmission customers will have been surveyed.

How does this improve participation?

Customers have had an opportunity to share their feedback, quickly, providing rich data for APA to make improvements.

Improved Customer Outcomes

The Red Dot program has used the survey insights to identify customer pain points, resulting in a multi-year technical upgrade to address the findings.

AGL formed a Social Licence Council comprising a broad range of senior managers to discuss key priority areas based on community and customer needs and expectations. It also commissioned a series of focus groups to gauge community views on what AGL should prioritise to improve trust and social licence.

How does this improve participation?

Using multiple feedback mechanisms, allowed AGL to expand the opportunity for customers and stakeholders to provide their views.

Improved Customer Outcomes

The feedback received was considered by senior executives and the Board and helped influence AGL’s Social Licence program.

Aurora Energy provide a Farm Energy Advocate service that offers specialist advice and information to help farmers better manage energy usage and costs, including reviewing account set ups and tariff assessments, as well as referrals to other tailored support services.

How does this improve participation?

Using channels tailored for a specific stakeholder group increases the opportunity for meaningful participation

Improved Customer Outcomes

The tailored approach helps farmers better manage energy usage and costs, and allowed for referrals to other tailored support services

Stanwell host a number of forums where customers can meet with people across the business, including the CEO, to discuss & ask questions about issues that might affect their energy costs.

How does this improve participation?

The forums provide an opportunity for customers to directly engage with senior executives and decision makers.

Improved Customer Outcomes

The forums improve outcomes by allowing senior executives to better understand customer priorities and pain points.

Involve

Ergon Energy Retail closely involved their customers in a complete redesign of their electricity bills.

How does this improve participation?

Interviewing customers as part of the design process, allowed for in-depth discussion to ensure customer views were understood and considered.

Improved Customer Outcomes

The new customer-led design will mean that customers can easily see their account details, usage information, how much to pay and when it’s due.

TransGrid established a consumer oversight committee with representatives from key consumer and industry bodies, to oversee implementation of the Powering Sydney’s Future (PSF) capital project.

How does this improve participation?

The committee was created in partnership with Energy Consumers Australia (ECA), ensuring its focus and operation met customer needs and expectations.  

Improved Customer Outcomes

The creation of an ongoing engagement forum provides customers with transparent information and updates about the rollout of the project, with the opportunity to directly influence how TransGrid delivers the project.

AGL established the AGL Macquarie Community Dialogue Group (CDG), as a primary avenue for consulting with local communities near its Liddell and Bayswater power stations.

How does this improve participation?

The CDG brought together customers with a common interest in the operations of its power stations in the Upper Hunter. It allowed senior AGL representatives to discuss detailed information relating to operations and site plans with customers.

Improved Customer Outcomes

Providing an avenue for direct engagement with local communities ensures customers have direct input into the transition as part of the retirement of these power stations.

AGIG directly involved customers in the development of its Customer and Stakeholder Engagement Plan.

How does this improve participation?

The Customer and Stakeholder Plan sets foundations for all engagement programs across AGIG including ensuring customers have an active role in shaping engagement approaches and setting clear KPIs to measure effectiveness.

Improved Customer Outcomes

The plan ensures that AGIG takes a consistent approach to its engagement activities, with clear policies and processes to ensure the customer is at the centre.

Endeavour Energy meets with 21 Local Councils twice each year to understand their expectations around street lighting and tariffs.

How does this improve participation?

Meeting Councils on a regular schedule has built better relationships and understanding.

Improved Customer Outcomes

This involvement with councils has led to an accelerated rollout of more sustainable LED streetlights and a real reduction in public lighting charges of 8%.

Collaborate

Essential Energy used a whole of business approach to ensure customer views appropriately influenced its 2019-24 Regulatory Proposal.

How does this improve participation?

Senior leaders and decision-makers were involved every step ensuring customers could materially influence business decisions. Trade-offs, were clearly articulated to customers. A close the loop focus meant that after each session, Essential Energy checked it had understood and shared how customer input influenced Essential Energy’s plans.

Improved Customer Outcomes

Customer centricity meant Essential Energy largely accepted the AER’s Draft Determination but proposed minor changes as supported by customer feedback.

Powerlink partnered with its customers to ‘co-design’ its engagement approach for its 2023-27 Revenue Determination process. The full-day workshop allowed customers to help determine engagement scope, techniques and evaluation.

How does this improve participation?

A co-design approach encourage participation as it occurs as one of the first steps in a process. It also encourages ownership and support of process moving forward.

Improved Customer Outcomes

Using a collaborative approach, engagement will better meet customer needs and preferences, and maximise their ability to provide relevant input that will influence investment decisions and planning.

Powershop developed a program where customers could volunteer to road test technology before a wider roll out. The ‘Powershop Test Pilots’ group were given early access to new versions of a mobile app before the new version was released to all customers. 

How does this improve participation?

It allows for customers to ‘experience’ technology and provide the opportunity to directly influence before being finalised.

Improved Customer Outcomes

Allowing customers to ‘test’ technology or experience ensures that the final decision is better aligned with expectations.

Jemena began consultation two years ahead of the submission date for regulatory proposal approval, seeking out independent advice, and collaborating with customers to design programs so that they were inclusive of all customer groups and impacted stakeholders.

How does this improve participation?

A People’s Panel was established consisting of a proportional mix of representatives. There was significant effort and emphasis on overcoming barriers to participation (such as interpreters, child care and transport).

Improved Customer Outcomes

Some of the most important input that customers provide is through shaping regulatory process and practice.

Transgrid established an executive level forum for regular engagement between key customer, consumer and industry representatives and TransGrid’s executive team. The TransGrid Advisory Council (TAC) meets four times a year.

How does this improve participation?

TAC meetings are chaired by members of TransGrid’s executive and are attended by TransGrid’s CEO. The meeting agenda is set by members of the TAC. Meetings are conducted under Chatham House rules to allow for open and honest discussion.

Improved Customer Outcomes

TAC provides a unique opportunity for key customer and consumer representatives to engage directly with TransGrid’s CEO and Executive leaders to influence decision making

Ausgrid has established a number of committees where customer representatives work with executives and managers to ensure customer perspectives are incorporated into strategic decisions.

How does this improve participation? 

Staff get to engage directly with customer advocates, which helps them to really understand different perspectives to make more informed recommendations.

  • Network Innovation Advisory Committee (NIAC) has developed customer focused innovation principles and supporting rankings that will help to prioritise Ausgrid’s innovation projects and better address customer needs. Ausgrid now is pursuing the highest ranked projects, Community Battery program and the network insights project.
  • The Pricing Working Group (PWG) worked with Ausgrid to submit an amendment to our Tariff Structure Statement to include a new embedded network tariff.  This aimed to address the growth of embedded networks within the Ausgrid distribution area; improve efficiency of our tariffs; ensure fair contribution to funding network costs by all customers and promote efficient entry in the embedded networks service provision.  The AER did not accept the suggested amendment but does consider the issue of how to effectively price the provision of embedded networks to warrant further consideration in future processes.

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