2017 has been a big year at WaterSmart! Over the past 12 months we expanded our 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 , our automated customer messaging system , to include text and voice communication channels. Because many utilities have more phone numbers on file than email addresses, this feature allows Group Messenger to be used as an emergency communication platform for topics such as service outages. We also added a to the platform to help utilities automatically identify the best way to contact their customers , and we found that over 50% of phone numbers in utilities' databases are mobile.
Strengthened Leadership in Leak Alerting and Management
This year we surpassed our unmatched solution to address nearly all leak-related interactions between the utility and their customers, and developed a set of robust metrics to help quantify the benefits of leak alerts. This expansion includes the ability to send and tools to track alerts that are sent manually by utility staff. We also made our Leak Diagnosis and Investigation tool available to all customers so they can self-initiate a leak check at any time. And on the Utility Analytics Dashboard, we now display metrics approximating water savings associated with leak alerts, customer sentiment in response to leak alerts, the total open leak rate within the utility, a history of all alerts sent through WaterSmart, and the estimated leak volume across the service area over time. We also now detect continuous use for all meter classes, allowing the utility to send leak communications to non-single family residential meter classes if they choose. Together these features provide the utility with a true end-to-end leak management solution , covering all meter classes across all available communication channels.
New! Bill Forecasting
WaterSmart introduced and bill forecast notifications (both volumetric and cost-based) this year for our AMI customers. We developed this feature set in response to feedback from our utility partners that . Among newly register ed customers we found that nearly 20% choose to opt-in to receive these notifications! Initial response to follow - up surveys indicate that these notifications overwhelmingly help customers better understand and prepare for their bill.
Fully Redesigned Customer Portal
On the Customer Portal, we completely redesigned the homepage to better support our increasingly diverse water utility clients. The new modular design is responsive for mobile and tablet devices , and is easily configured to reflect the utility’s priorities and their customers’ unique attributes. Additionally, we added weather data (temperature and precipitation) to the seasonal use chart to allow customers to better understand the drivers of seasonal changes in consumption. For AMI customers, we began to communicate data interruptions on the AMI chart and added a new chart that aggregates the customer’s use in the current billing period. Finally, and most importantly, we added bill presentment and paperless billing enrollment to the Customer Portal which allows customers to see their consumption information alongside billing data !
New! Customer Email Management Tools
To better support utility staff using the Utility Dashboard to manage customer communication, we added customizable email templates and email capture . N ow all customer responses to , and threads originating from , emails sent through the WaterSmart platform are captured and documented on the Customer Details Page. We also added a new Conversations grid that documents all inbound communications, and allows the utility to “open” and “close” conversations to more easily manage customer interactions across a wide range of utility staff members and departments .
As 2017 comes to a close, we are excited about our role in helping our utility partners provide value to their end-use customers, and we look forward to an even more ambitious and innovative 2018!