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 occurring around water, how we use it, and where we can go from here.
Peter Brostrom, head of the Water Use Efficiency Section for the California Department of Water Resources and Dr. Carrie Armel from the Precourt Energy Efficiency Center at Stanford University discussed the power of coupling behavioral psychology and data analytics; the two explain how the relationship between utilities and their customers can be strengthened by using demographic analysis to better cater to the needs of each customer.
Bringing together Fiona Sanchez, Director of Water Resources for the Irvine Ranch Water District in Orange County, CA and Jason Christensen, the Water Resource Manager for the city of Park City, Utah, cultivated a conversation around the power of deploying software tools to increase customer satisfaction. Both utilities have been able to tailor their customer’s water monitoring experience and create higher rates of satisfaction largely by increasing communication with the customers, rather than resorting to the less is more utility customer care approach.
We joined forced with utility veteran Todd Arnold to discuss the transformation of customer experience and how water utilities are rethinking the way they interact with their customers. Digital connectivity is a disruptive force to traditional customer service models, but provides opportunities for water utilities to embrace change and strengthen high-value relationships with the now “always-on” customer.
To broaden our topics outside the scope customer service, we brought in George Hawkins, CEO and GM for DC Water. Hawkins boasts over 20 years of experience in the public sector and brought his knowledge to our WaterSide Chat, discussing how he has implemented customer assistance programs to help disadvantaged households pay their water bills. His efforts for a utility that historically struggled with delinquent payments has resulted in an improved credit rating, lowered capital costs, and more effective financial management.
Karen Guz, Director of Conservation at the San Antonio Water System and Brian Doyle, VP at Pacific Consulting Group, discuss how they have led their organization to first and fourth place in JD Power’s customer satisfaction study. The common thread between the two? Fearless implementation of innovative programs that embrace technology. From social media to electronic billing systems, Guz and Doyle explain how they took their organizations online to increase efficiency and accessibility for their customers.
Our WaterSide Chat series will continue to explore topics of interest to the water industry and we invite you to participate by both attending the conversation and submitting ideas for new chats that you would find interesting.
Also, if you're interested in attending our upcoming WaterSide Chat on September 19, 2017 discussing The Digital Water Utility, please sign up right away!