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: customer engagement

Cutting edge customer engagement through the mail?!

November 30, 2017
| By Seth Engel

Everything old is new again. Vinyl records are making a comeback, 80’s horror flick/pop culture tribute ‘Stranger Things’ is the number 1 show on Netflix, and snail mail is the hot new way for utilities to communicate with their customers.

Don’t believe it? Consider this: water utilities, on average, have email addresses for only one third of their customers (although as we demonstrated in a recent blog post, they probably have their mobile phone number).

But what about the two-thirds of customers that utilities can’t reach via email? Without being able to send timely emails, utilities have three options for communicating with their customers:

  1. Calling the customer directly, though this requires extensive resources and takes time away from other important customer service activities.
  2. Mailing information with the bill.
  3. Not communicating at all.

As much as we talk about digital communications, print remains a relevant, if not

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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: affordability

The Best of WaterSide Chats

September 15, 2017
| By Ella Kobelt

Over the past several years, WaterSide Chats have evolved into a powerful channel through which WaterSmart communicates to the public. It’s our way of discussing developments in the water industry; we explore innovative technology, new types of thinking, or opportunities for advancement by way of customer service, payment performance, or a utility’s community perception. Our WaterSide Chats have taken many different forms. We’ve gathered industry leaders, water utility veterans, tech wizzes and policy pros, all with the hopes of leaving viewers with that “aha” moment, where a quote or a slide or a statistic may leave them thinking about the value of water and how technologies available today can be an empowering tool for the advancement of resiliency in the industry.

We’ve rounded up some of our favorite WaterSide Chats to reflect on themes that are still relevant. This is an opportunity to dig into innovation and thought leadership

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Topics: connecting the dots

Connecting Dots for Consumers

June 6, 2017
| By Jack Merrell

Only a quarter of consumers today feel that their utility is connecting the dots for them—that the utility is properly informing them about how much energy and water they use, and then correlating that use to both its environmental and economic impact on the consumer.

On the other side of the coin, less than half of utility executives feel that their organization is equipped to deal with the massive amounts of data* collected by today’s advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) and smart metering systems.

So, what is a water provider to do in the age of IoT, armed with an abundance of smart metering and sensor data but facing less-than-satisfied customer sentiment about how that information is used? How can we connect consumers with the information they crave?

Enter Itron and WaterSmart Software, two leading vendors in the water space who are committed to helping you make the most of all that data. And not just big data—but the right

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