Thoughts

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

Topics: communications

Watershed Moments: A framework for maximizing utility-customer interactions

March 27, 2018
| By Seth Engel

How much time do customers spend thinking about their water utility? According to consulting company Accenture’s consumer survey, if they are anything like the average customer, it’s around 8 minutes a year.

Most people just don’t spend that much time thinking about their water. How, then, can water utilities break through with a message that their customers will receive? By taking a page out of the marketer’s playbook and focusing on the customer journey, water utilities can maximize their interactions with their customers.

Years ago, smart marketers had the insight that marketing had become too disruptive to consumers. Consumers were being bombarded with message after message without regard to who they were or what stage of the buyer’s journey they were in. As a result, consumers tuned out these messages and the marketing was not impactful. Smart marketers began thinking harder about the messages they were putting out to

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Topics: communications

WaterSmart 2017 Year in Review

December 19, 2017
| By Kelly Coplin
2017 has been a big year at WaterSmart!  Over the past 12 months we expanded  our   customer engagement platform  to provide automated communication management  for  utilities’ most time-intensive  topics - leaks, high bills, and emergency notifications. We also extended our reach into utility bill presentment and electronic billing. Taken as a whole, these new product  capabilities   drive efficiencies and data transparency across the  entire  utility organization.

Here are some highlights of our product releases over the past 12 months.  We'll continue to build upon this momentum to reduce the cost to serve utility customers, protect utility revenue, and improve customer satisfaction in 2018!

Cutting Edge Text and Voice Communications

In 2017 we expanded  Group Messenger , our automated customer messaging  system , to include text and voice communication channels. Because many utilities have more phone numbers on file
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Topics: communications

The surprising numbers behind mobile device usage

November 7, 2017
| By Ella Kobelt

For most Americans, owning a mobile phone isn’t a want or a need, but rather a must. According to Pew Research, over 95% of Americans own a mobile phone, two thirds being a smartphone. In fact, even Pew has strayed from landline surveys and now targets mobile outreach. Communication happens on those 5” touch screens more and more frequently, with no signs of slowing down.

Water utilities are already recognizing the importance of being able to communicate with their customers via mobile phone, though many struggle to obtain these numbers. A recent finding by the WaterSmart Software development team discovered that many water utilities don’t realize the volume of mobile phone numbers they already store. While testing the phone number validation tool, a feature of our Group Messenger Module, the team ran a trial on a current utility customer’s database, expecting to find 25-30% of the contact numbers to be mobile. Instead, the tool

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Topics: communications

Watering Down Rules?

January 6, 2016
| By Doug Flanzer

I'm a rule follower. I always have been and I suppose I always will be. I guess I engaged in my share of hijinks and shenanigans back in my salad days, but by-and-large, I’m an average rule-following, law-abiding citizen, just like the rest of you.

So, back in March of 2015, when California—spurred by Governor Jerry Brown—passed new mandatory restrictions on residential water use, I got ready to do my part. In and among the more complex and finer points of the rules, there are two were simple mandates:

  1. Lawn and landscape watering is limited to two days a week.
  2. Lawn and landscape watering with potable water is banned within 48 hours after measurable rainfall.

Eager to comply with the new restrictions, I dialed down my irrigation controller to two days a week (and in fact turning it off completely for at least one zone); and being on standby for the rainy season—ready to dash outside in my pajamas and turn off the controller when

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Topics: communications

Engaging Customers in Water Loss Management

December 15, 2015
| By Subodh Nayar

Operating a public drinking water system is capital intensive. This means delivering the first gallon of water is infinitely more expensive than the second. The first gallon requires all the infrastructure, while the second requires only the operating cost to acquire raw water, treat it, and move it from the point of treatment to the point of delivery. Some amount of water loss, called unavoidable annual real losses (UARL), is inevitable in all water systems; the treated water lost in the delivery process which is prohibitively expensive to prevent. UARL is a mathematical calculation that assumes the distribution infrastructure is in good condition and accounts for the total length of the distribution system, the total number of service connections, the total length of connections from the street to the each meter, as well as average system pressure. It is exceptionally rare to find a utility operating at or close to the UARL. More

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Topics: communications

What Water Utilities Can Learn From the Donald Trump Phenomenon

December 9, 2015
| By Dominique Gomez

No one can really say how long the Donald Trump presidential campaign will last. If you told most veteran journalists or political junkies a year ago that Trump would be a front-runner through the late summer and fall of 2015, few would believe you. But Donald Trump has certainly been successful (still polling #1 in most national polls as of the first week of December). Love him or hate him, his campaign illustrates many of our natural human biases and tendencies – either intentionally or unintentionally. Here are three prime examples that could be relevant to water utilities:

#1 - Shorter is better

Political campaigns, or at least the successful ones, are all about communication. Not all candidates communicate effectively or memorably, but Donald Trump is a clear outlier. His messages are big, simple, and memorable. While there may be other candidates who have more in-depth policy priorities or offer more detail, you can count on

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