Re-imagining Water Mains Renewal

  • 2020

  • Service
    Public Sector Services

Commissioned By:

Yarra Valley Water

Designed In:


Water Main Renewals is an ongoing program of work where ageing assets are replaced. The work is critical for ensuring safe drinking water. The end-to-end service experience hinges on the right communications touch points delivered to customers at the right time.

Image: Yarra Valley Water
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  • While critical to the household water supply, Water Mains Renewals are disruptive, shifting customers outside what is their ‘normal’ into periods of uncertainty, causing feelings of frustration and vulnerability. The brief was to re-imagine the service experience to ensure the Water Main Renewals process was transparent to customers and others near the renewal works. Realising this brief meant aligning the engineering mindset that seeks to manage risk with the design mindset that seeks to manage uncertainty for humans.

  • Renewals work is not discrete: traffic is re-routed, water turned off, assets are stored in the street while work progresses, nature strips are dug up as new pipes replace old. The re-imagined service experience had to reconcile the materiality of renewals work, key systems actors – external partners, customers, the Yarra Valley Water internal renewals team - into a seamless service experience where customers felt in control despite the disruptive, nature of the work. A simple, low-tech, low-cost solution involving creating more communication touch points along the end-to-end journey has resulted in significant improvements to customers’ satisfaction of this service experience.

  • The project has shown significant design ROI related to commercial impact. Before the design intervention customer satisfaction with the renewals program was 79%, which was less than the 86% target. In the space of four quarters since implementing the changes CSat has risen to 92%.

  • The solution identified a low-tech, low-cost, efficient solution to re-imagine a service experience that is disruptive and unapologetic. The design ROI has already proven its value to customers. Customer satisfaction went from 79% to 92% in the space of four quarters. This translates into better brand advocacy and trust among customers.