Interactive community engagement app increases customer engagement

17th June 2022

When D?r Cymru Welsh Water (DCWW) needed to explain to the communities of Port Talbot and Aberystwyth about a planned multi-million pound investment into the local water network to secure safe, reliable clean drinking water supplies for decades to come, they collaborated with their Alliance Delivery Partner Morrison Water Services (MWS) to help explain what was happening in the area.

With in-person town hall style meetings suspended during the pandemic, Morrison Water Services worked with colleagues at AECOM, which together with MWS, forms Caledonia Water Alliance (CWA), to host two interactive community events online for DCWW, a solution that has increased customer engagement eight-fold.

The events have covered topics from traffic management and parking to customer water supplies and some of the innovative solutions being used on the project, such as sliplining, open cut and pipe bursting.

During the two-week Port Talbot event, there were 350 visitors and 1,100 page views of information. A significantly higher proportion of residents from the 4,500 properties affected by the investment works compared to the smaller numbers – often no more than 40 people - who would attend in-person town hall events. In Aberystwyth there were 286 visitors. In total 3,500 people have attended and around 200 have left comments.

The investment programme began in May 2021 and is due to be completed by November. It will result in 16.3km of water mains being replaced and another 9.8km being cleansed.

Gareth Nairn, MWS Planning Manager for DCWW, explains: “Connecting with the community at the start of a project and throughout the life of a scheme is something we can always do better.

“As part of DCWW and Morrison Water Services’ continuous improvement drive, connecting with stakeholders and the customer measure of experience (C-MEX) were key investment areas.

“We wanted to help residents better understand our delivery and what it means for them. The pandemic provided an opportunity because we couldn’t host events in person. People were moving to a different way of working and living and we had to change too.”

Within an interactive community event, people can visit different areas of information of the 360-degree virtual room containing information boards and video content about customer benefits, investment statistics and scheme plans. For DCWW, all the information was in Welsh and English.

Gareth said: “Interactive community events can provide significantly more information about what we’re doing, where we will be working and what disruption people can expect. Residents can visit online as often as they wish, live-chat with members of MWS and DCWW project team and leave comments and ask questions.

“We sent a newsletter to residents with a QR code to access the event. Social media also proved popular, half of all visitors heard about the events this way. Facebook was most effective.

Port Talbot and Aberystwyth were the first two phases of this improvement programme, with 11 zones still to be delivered. An interactive community event will be set up for each zone

The benefits in community engagement quickly became evident when work started in Port Talbot.


Gareth added: “We noticed there were a lot more positive comments into the DCWW call centre within a month of starting work. That’s got to be good for our clients’ customer satisfaction (C-MEX) scores.


“We’re treating this innovation as our business-as-usual now because it’s more cost-effective, more sustainable, a better use of our time and more accessible to our client’s customers. We are always looking for ways to improve, building on what we learn each time we host an event.”

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