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Sydney Water: Utility supplier providing great customer experience

Sydney Water: Providing great customer experience

Sydney Water has traditionally been an asset-centric business with a strong track record of reliable, high quality water and wastewater services, however it has taken strong steps recently to put its current and future customers at the centre of their operations. KPMG is helping across multiple aspects of this program, from strategy formulation to implementation.

Cassandra Hogan

Partner in Charge, Operations Advisory | National Lead, Energy & Natural Resources

KPMG Australia


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Customer expectations are being set with innovative customer experiences from global companies who are outside the water sector, and so a step change in Sydney Water’s experience delivery is needed to stay relevant to these changing expectations.

Sydney Water is a complex and geographically disparate organisation which services over 5 million customers, with coordination across multiple geographies and functions required for product and service delivery. This creates multiple challenges to a transformation program.

A culture change or mindset shift for the organisation is central to the capability uplift Sydney Water aspires to, which requires layered and sustained change management.

Changing customers

A key challenge for Sydney Water is to meet the rapidly evolving expectations of its customers, and quickly. Technology is enabling consumers to interact with their providers with ease, and Sydney Water’s customers were expecting the same level of service that they experience from other service providers.

Another challenge is Sydney’s population growth. As one of the state’s key water and infrastructure businesses, it must be prepared to cater for many more people in the years to come. It needs the capabilities and agility to stay a step ahead of demand.

Multiple aspects of change

The new operating model primarily focusses on people and process behaviours, to shift capabilities within the organisation, and to bring in new capabilities where gaps are identified.

It requires vast cultural change, as it involves re-setting all processes to put the customer first, as well as instilling this focus in the daily habits of staff.

Technology transformation is also required – with a key aspect being the need to replace legacy Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and billing platforms with advanced systems.


KPMG set out to help Sydney Water implement a target operating model, to ensure that the customer is core to every part of the work stream, and to build deep capabilities around customer delivery.

The team plays a ‘three-tiered role’. At the highest level they focus on strategic alignment, setting the direction and interdependencies across the entire organisation, right through to the customer.

The second tier focuses on delivery capabilities – helping Sydney Water to put the right project management and change management structures in place to make the transformation a success.

The third tier focuses on workstream design and delivery. KPMG experts are integrated into a number of key work streams to help move the projects forward and align them with the strategic intent.

Customer Hub

A core initiative of the program is the development of a ‘Customer Hub’. This hub is designed to help Sydney Water see and understand what its customers want, need and value. It provides an holistic view of customers, helping teams to prioritise work and initiatives to best deliver customer value.

The Hub helps Sydney Water to improve its Net Promoter Score, its people performance and its financial position. It also helps it to address any customer issues quickly – offering easy trouble-shooting options and straightforward access to assistance in order to reduce pain points in the customer experience.

As a result, Sydney Water is experiencing a higher-degree of delivery confidence, and is building the foundations to be a water utility fit for future – a leaner, more agile and customer-centric operation.


Due to the multi-disciplinary nature of this transformation, it requires people with the right skillsets to help. Many experts from Management Consulting collaborated on the program – including people from Strategy, Transformational Program Management, Customer & Operations, Technology, and Shared Services Outsourcing.

The group is helping Sydney Water to transform from an asset-centric organisation into a ‘customer-focused’ operation. It is functioning more efficiently and effectively, and is ready to adapt as customers demand. It is now in a much brighter position to make a positive impact in the Sydney community.

Multiple waves of delivery lie before Sydney Water to achieve their strategy, however they now have the foundations to build on and the delivery capabilities to take the next step.

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