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: 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: 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: data anlytics

The Tide Is Turning: A Digital Revolution in Water

January 3, 2019
| By Kevin Kern
 

Many of you have likely been hearing about the “Digital Transformation of Water Utilities.” Everything from Advanced Metering Infrastructure, to distribution network sensors, to modern customer communication systems are driving a wave of acceptance and adoption of new digital technologies throughout the water sector. 

Technology innovation is continuing to disrupt the water sector leading utilities to explore new ways of communicating and engaging with customers. In an environment of constrained resources, utility leaders are also evaluating new approaches to improve operational resilience, particularly in the Western United States where water stress is no longer the exception, but rather the rule.  These same water utilities need to find new ways to effectively communicate with the consumer base to enhance good will, improve customer satisfaction, and gain the political support needed to make ongoing investments in

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Topics: digital engagement

Lessons Learned from 100 Water Suppliers

October 25, 2018
| By Jeff Lipton
 
 
WaterSmart just reached a major milestone. We signed our 100th utility partner . It's only a number, and given that there are about 50,000 community water systems in the United States, this accomplishment is, pardon the pun, just a drop in the bucket. What is important is that the WaterSmart team has had the opportunity to learn an amazing amount from these hundred partnerships. We've worked with scores of utility staff and surveyed hundreds of thousands of end-use customers. What has come from all that experience and data are some pretty interesting insights.
Given this milestone, we thought it would be a good time to pause and reflect on our journey over the past nine years. We went back and aggregated a large set of survey data and partner feedback to summarize what we've learned on our journey from 1 to 100. We hope these compelling insights form the basis for best practices throughout the industry moving forward. 
 
First
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Topics: digital engagement

The Utility Built for a Millennial

October 11, 2018
| By Ali Barsamian
 
According to population projections from the U.S. Census Bureau, m illennials are expected to become the nation's largest living adult generation by 2019. 37% of millennials were homeowners in 2015 and this number continues to rise, making them a significant fraction of a utilities' customer base. The m illennial generation is defined as those born between the years of 198 2 and 199 8. Th e impact this generation has had in t ransforming t he transportation, shopping , and television industries is already clear : J ust look to the widespread use of ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft, the massive success of Amazon or the demise of video rental stores. Understanding how millennials think and what they expect from customer service is key to a successful future for utilities , particularly as they face critical infrastructure investments which often necessitate publicly approved rate increases
 
G rowing up in the age of internet
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