On Thursday 24th August 2017, Yarra Valley Water (YVW) hosted the Thriving Communities Partnership, with 70 other organisations in attendance to co-create the Thriving Communities Partnership Charter.
The Thriving Communities Partnership (TCP) is a cross-sector collaboration aimed at ensuring that everybody has fair access to the modern essential services they need to thrive in contemporary Australia: including utilities, financial services, telecommunications and transport. The TCP will provide Australia’s first centralised platform for collaboration, learning, research and projects – such as the Building Consumer Trust project – that advance organisational contributions to combatting customer vulnerability and hardship.
Tim Costello will be the Partnership’s Chief Advocate and Cynthia Gebert (EWOV) will Chair the Advisory Group (watch Tim’s opening address here ).
As part of this event, CPRC launched our first policy report, the Building Customer Trust project. Initiated in 2015 by the former Consumer Utilities Advocacy Centre (CUAC), who took a new approach – identifying existing practices and processes within energy and water retail businesses that deliver fair consumer outcomes, and distilling these findings into higher level principles. CUAC, and later CPRC, worked closely with industry, consumers and consumer groups to identify business practices that delivered fair outcomes and helped to build customer trust. By highlighting and sharing principles and examples of best practices from within these organisations we hope to raise the bar and lift industry practice.
During the many hours spent observing business practices and speaking with staff and customers, we noticed the theme of ‘trust’ recurring continually. Building and maintaining trust is an ongoing process for businesses: in each interaction, retailers need to demonstrate genuine integrity and the motivation to meet customer expectations. This is particularly important in a context of low wage growth in Australia, with millions of Australians still living in or on the edge of, financial vulnerability or poverty.
The Building Consumer Trust report identifies four underlying principles with relevant examples identified from the businesses observed, along with a checklist of suggested practices businesses can adopt to improve the customer experience.
Using the Building Consumer Trust Report as a foundation, the TCP has developed a Charter which incorporates many of the principles and themes identified. A commitment by business to adopt the principles and implement practice changes is a practical outcome from the project. We encourage all businesses committed to building customer trust to get involved with the TCP initiative and sign on to the Charter that has been developed.
Attached is the link to Thriving Communities Partnership initiative: https://www.thriving.org.au