Thank You for Inconveniencing Me

February 3, 2020

unsplash-logoRuss Ward

Scenario 1: Old Timey Municipal Water Utility is upgrading a section of main and shuts off the supply. The service interruption comes without warning, just as Mr. Neighbor is ducking under the stream to rinse the shampoo out of his hair. He’s not happy. In fact, he’s 4% less happy with Old Timey than he was before he got in the shower.

Scenario 2: Modern Communicative Municipal Water Utility is upgrading a section of main and shuts off the supply. They provided ample notice to their customers, warning them of the service interruption, so Mr. Neighbor planned accordingly and took his morning shower earlier. He’s happy. In fact, he’s 5.8% more happy with Modern Communicative than he was before he got the news about the shutoff.

It’s intuitive that a customer is less happy when their water gets turned off, but the outcome of this second scenario is less obvious. A customer who has their water turned off and had prior notice is happier with their water provider than if there had been no interruption in water supply at all.

This was just one compelling takeaway from the The Water Utility Residential Customer Satisfaction Study conducted by JD Powers in 2018.

Here’s another.

When your customers hear from you, they are happier with you. Customers who recall just 4 – 5 communications from their water utility are nearly 15% more satisfied than customers who recall none.

If you are now wondering why happy customers matter (we might have a bigger problem…), consider this. Happy customers approve increased investment in technology and system upgrades, are understanding and accepting of inevitable rate increases, make fewer complaints that tie up utility resources, are more responsive to behavior nudges, and on and on.

Add them all up, and you’ve got several compelling reasons to open the doors and start talking to the people you serve.