Case Study: Energy industry agile community

The client:

TasNetworks commenced operations on 1 July 2014. It has been formed by a merger between Aurora Energy’s distribution network (the poles and wires) and Transend Networks (the big towers and lines). TasNetworks is a Tasmanian state-owned corporation that supplies power from the generation source to homes and businesses through a network of transmission towers, substations and powerlines.”

Objectives of a discussion focus group research project:

To use an agile online discussion focus group to capture customer attitudes and preferences towards new product ideas and communication in context of an electricity network employee need to  access a customers’ property and home.

Identified target market:

Sixteen electricity metered residential customers were recruited from a variety of locations including rural and urban locations. A proportion of those customers had solar installed, and all customers were on either dial or digital tariff electricity meters. There was a mix of age and sex from early 20’s through to 60+ years of age.

GroupQuality online community insights consulting


  • A secure (GroupQuality) online insights community discussion board (over-time focus group) professionally moderated by us.
  • Respondents were recruited and screened, invited to participate, and provided with a unique username and password.
  • The discussion occurred over a 5-day period, and activity took place in a structured online discussion using an approved, scheduled discussion guide. The guide included questions, images, and documents to be reviewed and analysed.
  • The discussion guide was carefully structured for the online environment to ensure the most efficient use of the participants’ time.
  • Participants logged in at a time convenient to them each day – early in the morning or late afternoon or early evening.
  • Each day a set of discussion topics were scheduled to be automatically activated, and an automated email update notified participants and asked them to log in to contribute to the discussion topic by answering the questions and adding to the conversation.
  • The participants and the moderator asked questions to clarify points, and the moderator prompted members to dive deep into a participant’s opinion in response to the discussion topic.
  • Participants were paid a $100 incentive in the form of a gift voucher for completing the discussion in all its parts and an additional bonus if they completed the homework exercise.

GroupQuality online discussion board case study


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The discussion included fourteen discussion topics were released over the 5-day period. Within each of those topics, we included many questions and exercises, including bonus questions. The subjects in the discussion guide were structured to build the customer’s story and included images, text and short video clip taken with a smart-phone. The discussion included both private diary style documentation to protect both privacy and personal information and open group discussions when we needed to open up topics to achieve a consensus.

The topics were designed to pace the participants through a journey to achieve three objectives:

  1. To build their trust and confidence in using the online environment,
  2. To lead them into the subject and build context for the discussion
  3. To provide the opportunity to share ideas based on their experiences.

The focus of this process was to understand the customer’s home environment and how the experience with our client’s primary touch point affects their opinions and attitude towards products and services. The planned discussion guide was designed to provide context for the participant’s story, which could then be shared with the organisation to establish a customer viewpoint.

Our objective as to get the network provider as close to the customer as possible! To put them in the customer’s shoes and visualise the contact moments using the customer’s language and images. An ethnographic technique to pull the client out of the corporate mindset and start thinking about the touch-points from the customer’s point of view.

GroupQuality Agile Insights and market research results

The outcomes:

The core insights of the project are commercial in confidence, but the process we took revealed the customer was aware of their obligation to allow the client access to their property, but there was a degree of confusion about the entities and the responsibilities of the players in the energy industry. Confusion about the energy market still a common thread of opinion in the residential energy market in Australia.

The GroupQuality team guided the participants through a series of co-creation exercises to develop a set of customer experience guidelines and to develop a proposed communication package. This process provided under-the-bonnet customer insights which would not have been revealed in a survey and would have been three times the cost if we had used traditional face to face methods. The results of the project demonstrate how the customer thinks about the touch-point experiences and more importantly what is driving consumer perception and behaviour. The process provided the actionable insights needed to produce information which would speak to the target audience.

The GroupQuality team developed a process to test a new product idea. The participants were funnelled through the process of product discovery and creation based on their current experience and an ideation exercise to develop gradually introduce product ideas. The result of this exercise demonstrated that the product idea did not add any additional value from the customer’s standpoint. However, based on the expectations of the market, a new product may be introduced if it completely alters the consumer’s mindset by taking an existing service and framing it within an entirely different product category.

GroupQuality® is a cloud based agile insights software and consulting service that helps you capture insights with fewer resources. If you need an agile method to engage customers, employees and partners, to communicate, collaborate, ask questions and quickly capture the answers, then we can help!

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