Working in the water industry has its own set of challenges. You are not just providing a service, you are supplying access to a necessary resource. Regardless of the unique challenges that accompany work in utilities, you still need to provide good customer service.
Why it�s important to provide good customer service
The American Water Works Association (AWWA) conducted a survey to determine how water utilities can achieve successful communications. They tallied results from 175 service providers to see where they struggled with communications and why they were having problems.
The target audience that was cited as the most difficult was residential customers. The top four reasons service providers felt communications failed with residents included:
- Lack of understanding
Because water services must meet government regulations, communications often get complicated, and even convoluted, at times. However, customer service should remain a top priority.
Many utilities stated that lack of understanding or the complexity of a situation made it difficult to communicate with residents. However, if you take the time to reach out to your customers before an issue arises, you will be making it easier when it comes time to contact them again.
In their survey, the AWWA stated that, �By devoting more effort to educating customers and communicating on an ongoing basis to build rapport, utilities can reduce or eliminate many of their communication difficulties.�
Even though it may seem that going the extra mile will take more time and effort, improved communications can make your life simpler with stakeholders, business customers, and regulatory agencies, not to mention improving relationships with your residential customers.
Tips for improving customer service
Improving your customer service takes efforts from all personnel. Check out these tips to help you begin the process of better communication.
Make a good first impression
The first few seconds of contact will set the tone for the whole experience. A good first impression will leave your customer more open to discussion and willing to sympathize with whatever is causing the issue they have contacted you about. However, the customer is most likely to get frustrated or even upset if their first point of contact is unfriendly or hostile. Be positive, understanding, and put your best foot forward on each and every contact.
When the customer is calling you, it�s likely because they are already frustrated or upset. You can avoid that altogether by being proactive. Periodically perform surveys that ask how you can serve the customer better. Use your SCADA system to monitor, report, and alert customers of issues and upcoming maintenance.
Customers need providers to be accountable. If they have an issue, but find it difficult or impossible to contact you, that person may become even more difficult or seek a different provider. With today�s technology, it�s easy to furnish a way for your customers to contact you 24/7. Online chats, offsite call centers, and contact forms are just some of the options available.
Educate your customers
Educating your customer benefits you. If your company takes the time to better educate the customer, they will sympathize more with service issues. Let your customers know when peak times are and maybe they will consume less during those times. If they understand why water pressure decreases around 7 am, maybe they will decide to get up a little earlier to shower.
Treat people how you want to be treated
The most important thing is to simply treat your customers like you would want to be treated. Be friendly, get to know your customers, and understand their needs and concerns. Work with your customers and they will be more likely to work with you.