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Customer Experience Practice

Authors: Dr. Anna Lorenzetto, Glenn Wilson

Operationalising Customer Centricity

How do you take an aspiration to create truly great customer experiences, and embed that into day-to-day activity?

Putting customers’ needs at the centre of what we do is the cornerstone of Yarra Valley Water’s 2030 strategy – they’re the needs of some 2 million people living in our service area and 58,000 business customers.

Being customer-led is essential to achieve our goals and as we provide essential services that support the health and wellbeing of our customers and community.

That’s why we launched our Customer Experience Practice in 2018, with the aim of making the aspiration a reality and creating ‘great customer experiences’ across every aspect of our business.

To operationalise customer centricity, the Customer Experience Practice takes both an outside-in and an inside-out approach. Understanding experiences through the eyes of customers is integrated with an understanding of the people, processes, technology and data of the organisation that makes the experience possible.

Line of Visibility

To support this, the Customer Experience Practice uses the concept of the Line of Visibility which refers to one of the three distinguishing lines typical in a service blueprint. The Line of Visibility is used to emphasise the integration (rather than separation) between all parts of a service and the idea that at this point, customers’ experiences and their relationship with the organisation are formed.  

The Line of Visibility integrates:

  • Above the Line of Visibility – everything customers see, hear, smell, touch, taste - from field crews to digital service interactions; considered the frontstage actions of the experience.
  • Below the Line of Visibility – the people, process, technology and data required to make these experiences happen; considered the backstage actions of the experience.
image showing line of visibility for customer experiences
The Line of Visibility (The LoV) © Yarra Valley Water 2019-2020


Journey mapping

To gain a deep understanding of customers’ experiences, we identified and mapped 90 high-level customer journeys, spanning the entire customer lifecycle. Customer journey maps represent customers’ experiences across different areas of the business. They are then used to measure the quality of customer’ experiences and they are the basis of our customer journey management program. We analyse the journey maps using a measurement suite to identify key aspects of the experience, including things like the quality of communications, resolution times, ease of use, level of care, reflecting what matters most to customers over the course of completing a job.

Journey maps are used to:  

  • Understand the employee experience commensurate with customers
  • Aggregate and perform ongoing experience measurement
  • Identify service gaps, opportunities for service innovation, design and improvement
  • Compare experiences within and between journeys
  • Baseline customer and employee experience
  • Provide a holistic view of customers’ experiences and avoid quick fixes
  • Train staff
  • Highlight cause and effect to facilitate complaints resolution.
image of journey maps
A journey map showing employee (green) and customer (blue) pain points © Yarra Valley Water 2019-2020


Business improvement

The Customer Experience Practice is embedded within the Service Futures Group at Yarra Valley Water. Service Futures is responsible for customer-led, technology-driven business improvement and brings together all the organisational capabilities required to deliver end-to-end solutions. The Customer Experience Practice is a full lifecycle practice comprising four key functions:

  • Experience research:
    • Qualitative and quantitative research to understand user experience, emergent unmet need, expectations, generate user archetypes and inform service and user experience design
  • Service design:
    • Design of the end-to-end experience, considering the channels, devices and interactions users will experience as they complete their job-to-be-done.
  • User experience design (digital):
    • Design of the digital experiences in the end-to-end experience. This includes functionality, features, accessibility and aesthetics of our digital products, systems and services.
  • Experience metrics and analytics:

Ongoing monitoring, measurement and analysis of customer experience results when people interact with an end-to-end service experience as they complete their jobs to be done.

Recent examples of how we have leveraged our Customer Experience Practice to improve customer experience include:

Digital Metering:

Undertaking experience research with Yarra Valley Water’s Digital Metering Program customers, supporting small-scale trials to gauge customers’ post-implementation experience and adjusting service design accordingly. This experience was rolled out as part of our Vermont South trial which included installing digital meters on 771 properties. The results included:

  • No customer complaints, less than a one per cent opt out rate, and high customer engagement with our communications.
  • Seventy-nine per cent of customers opening emails and four per cent clicking on the link for more information.
  • In addition, over 50 per cent of customers updated their details  so they could receive leak alerts via mobile and email.

Land development portal (easyACCESS) replacement:

Completing user research and ideation of a new service design for Yarra Valley Water’s land development portal, easyACCESS. We rearticulated customers’ land development journeys through the eyes of three user archetypes, an experience schema describing the customer experience of applying using easyACCESS and four design principles to guide the service and UX re-design. This work is the foundation for the re-design and building the final solution.

Water main renewals communications:

When the Customer Experience Practice uncovered that customers’ water mains renewals interactions were failing to achieve our desired satisfaction target, we researched why customer experience was below par, and determined what design interventions would improve this.

Research identified an opportunity to redesign these communications– ensuring the content was relevant, consistent, succinct and timely. Customer satisfaction with our water mains renewal journey improved from 79 per cent to 92 per cent in the space of four quarters. We’re now applying learnings from this project to redesign other field service related experiences.

High bill communications:

Through our journey mapping program, we identified the many pain points customers experience when interacting with high bill communications. We highlighted the necessary improvements that lead to increased customer satisfaction and worked with our Strategic Communications Division to produce the changes. We expect similar results from this project to those achieved from the redesign of our water mains renewals communications.

Although relatively new, the CX Practice has already become embedded in the way we work and will be a central function to delivering Yarra Valley Water’s upcoming 2030 Strategy.

More Information

To find out more information about Yarra Valley Water’s Customer Experience Practice, contact Anna Lorenzetto via email [email protected].