Engaging with our communities

Thursday, April 01, 2021


Further improving the experience our customers have with us has been a key focus during the past year.

We’ve stepped up the way we engage and communicate with our communities, including providing more detailed information around work that requires planned outages for our customers’ homes and businesses.

While in the past we relied almost solely on electricity retailers notifying customers of planned outages affecting their properties in our network area, we now take a more proactive approach – actively informing communities about planned work involving multiple planned outages and the reasons behind it, Customer Experience Manager Haydn Davies says.

This has been possible partly because of new internal systems that provide more visibility of projects that have the potential to impact many customers, allowing us to give communities and customers better work information upfront, he says. We also recruited a new role of Customer Experience Advisor in December 2020. These improvements meant that during the last quarter of FY2021 alone, we proactively engaged with communities on more than 20 electricity network projects.

Other ways we’ve improved the way we communicate and engage with our customers and their communities:

  • Dedicated customer/community website pages, featuring project details, timeframes and updates as works projects progress.
  • Direct communications with affected customers, including via letter, social media, email, phone call and community meeting, which helps provide context for the work, the benefits and allows customers time to plan and ask questions.
  • An upgrade of the Powerco website’s ‘planned outages’ search feature, enabling people to search past and future planned outages by address or outage reference number.
  • A new Powerco website homepage pop-up for important customer announcements, for example when there has been major Transpower network maintenance outages affecting Powerco’s network area customers.

While we move towards more proactive customer communication and engagement about network projects, we recognise the importance of quality reactive interactions with customers who may have been left less than satisfied with our service. A key role of the new Customer Experience Advisor, is receiving, acknowledging and triaging customer complaints. This new way of working has seen our two-working-day acknowledgement of a complaint key performance indicator (KPI) score improve during the last quarter of FY21. Overall, for FY21, 86% of complaints were acknowledged within two working days – a 29 percentage point improvement compared with the previous year.  

KPIs help show our improvement, but it’s our customers’ words that truly indicate we are on the right track. Here is a selection of the feedback our Customer Experience Team has had from customers during the past year:

“Thank you so much for this information. It was great to be able to share this with our community and help them understand the situation,” Pātea community member.

“Thanks again for your updates and willingness to work with bettering communications with our wonderful community.”

““Many thanks for your email and we have had nothing but excellent service from your Powerco/Downer people since the power outage in early November,” Homewood (Wairarapa) resident.

“I wanted to say a big thank you to Greg and the team who organised Arb Innovations to assist with the removal and trimming of trees on our boundary that were threatening service lines to our neighbours. Everyone we have dealt with has been professional, friendly and super efficient. That has been much appreciated – please pass on our thanks!”