Thoughts

A place for education, information, and insights about the water industry.

Topics: customer communications

Social Media Best Practices for Water Utilities

April 29, 2020
| By Avril Dalin

In today's day and age, social media has left no industry untouched. Every brand, company, product, city, and movement has a social media presence. It's changed the way we interact with the world and the way we receive information. Social media provides businesses the opportunity to build their brand, nurture customer relationships, and share information in a rapid and cost effective manner. JD Power’s 2018 study has shown that employing multiple channels of communication leads to an increase in satisfaction rates of 14.8% among utility customers. These are benefits the water industry cannot afford to leave untapped, especially with 79% of American adults present online and with customer engagement and satisfaction becoming bigger priorities for utilities. Thankfully, with proper planning and preparation, social media might just be the missing piece to a successful total customer engagement strategy.

 

Fostering Positive Feedback
To
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Topics: Editorial

To Build or Not to Build?

April 14, 2020
| By Ali Barsamian

Times have changed and current customer expectations established by other industries are pushing water utilities to re-evaluate their customers' experience.  Providing a one-stop shop for customers to view and track water consumption, and take additional self-service actions is quickly becoming table stakes for water utilities of all sizes. Bluefield Research predicts a 17.1% compound annual growth rate for investment in customer engagement software platforms in the coming years.  As utilities consider deploying said solution, a myriad of team members from varying departments will likely want specific features or functionalities included with the project. Before long, the list of requirements can begin to feel overwhelmingly long and incredibly unique to the utility's particular needs. 

A natural reaction for some may be to assume their needs are so unique that a custom solution must be developed in-house in order to adequately
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Topics: rate increases

3 Ways Self-Service Payment Tools Combat Rising Water Rates

April 1, 2020
| By Chad Galloway

When it comes to collecting payments and maintaining stable revenue, water utility companies face many challenges. One of the most pressing of these challenges is the issue of ever-increasing water rates due to aging water infrastructures and rising treatment costs across the country. In fact, a 2017 research study from Michigan State University shows that water rates have increased by 41% since 2010. If rates continue to rise at this rate over the course of the next 5 years, it’s estimated that over 40 million households in the U.S. won’t be able to afford water. 

This issue of affordability is one that looms large for the majority of water utility companies. When water rates rise drastically, utilities see delayed payments and, in some cases, customers are unable to pay bills at all. Since the utility is responsible for the costs associated with maintaining and treating water regardless of the revenue they collect, this leads

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Topics: Did you know?

WaterSmart Software Response to COVID-19

March 16, 2020
| By Ali Barsamian

Presently, we are in an unprecedented time and each day we are exposed to new information related to the COVID-19 virus.  The confusion and uncertainty surrounding the disease can certainly be unsettling. First and foremost, our thoughts are with those around the world who’ve been impacted by the virus. We are hoping for safety and health for all. Thus far, the COVID-19 virus has not been detected in drinking water. It is our understanding that standard water treatment methods used for filtering and disinfecting water, such as those in most municipal drinking water systems, should remove or inactivate pathogens causing COVID-19.

At WaterSmart, the health and safety of our employees, customers, partners and communities is a significant concern for us.  We are a technology company, and like many other firms we have taken proactive steps to help minimize the exposure and potential spread of COVID-19, and we are confident in our

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Topics: digital engagement

Navigating the Path to AMI

March 4, 2020
| By Matt Finkle

On February 5th, the American Water Works Association released “AWWA’s Best Practices for AMI System Rollout as learned by the FGUA” exploring the Florida Governmental Utility Authority’s experience transitioning 27,500 manual meters to Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI). The article highlights lessons learned from the AMI project and best practices for other utilities to consider. With the analysis largely focusing on the design, construction and operational components of an AMI rollout, there was a gap for additional best practices utilities should incorporate for a successful AMI implementation and to drive long-term value from the investment.

Communicating the value of AMI

Because AMI implementations can take years to complete, it is beneficial to communicate the end-user benefits well in advance to avoid delays and backlash from customers. Utilities must incorporate a proactive customer engagement strategy to support

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Topics: Did you know?

10 Years of WaterSmart in Review

December 31, 2019
| By Ali Barsamian
A decade is long period of time, yet it also seems to pass in the blink of an eye.  As 2020 quickly approaches and the current decade comes to a close, WaterSmart simultaneously celebrated ten years in business. WaterSmart was founded in November of 2009 as the first company in the United States to help water utilities use data analytics and behavioral science to improve water use efficiency and better serve and engage customers. 10 years later, we have worked with scores of utility staff, surveyed hundreds of thousands of end-use customers, attended thousands of conferences, and deployed a continuous stream of new product capabilities. What has come from all that are some fairly fascinating metrics and entertaining stories. 
First, ten metrics to illustrate our impact:
  1. A geographically dispersed user base, spanning over two-thirds of the United States  
  2. The largest market presence with over 140 utility partners representing over
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