July - September 2018
WATER SYSTEM CUSTOMERS AMONG THE MOST SATISFIED IN THE COUNTRY
Cobb County Water System earned the No. 3 ranking in the nation in the 2017 J.D. Power Water Utility Customer Satisfaction Survey. With 755 out of 1,000 available points, this was a 21-point increase over last year’s score. Cobb’s third-place ranking was just points behind Gwinnett County Water Resources (757) first-place, and Orlando Public Utilities (756) second-place finish. J.D. Power surveyed 10,000 customers from 88 utilities throughout the U.S. The purpose of the study is to give an indication of customer satisfaction in the areas where utilities were evaluated: service delivery, water quality, price, billing, conservation, communications, and customer service.
The customers were surveyed four times throughout the year to determine whether seasonal factors impacted satisfaction. While fluctuation in satisfaction by season was not noted, there were some other interesting findings: 30% of respondents reported a perceived water quality issue; only 23% recall any communication with their water utility; 31% still pay their bill through mail (and those who pay their bill through mail report the lowest satisfaction); about half were unaware of other programs or services offered by their utility; Customer Service had the lowest percentage of participants (most had not contacted their utility directly); and overall, from a communications standpoint, the water industry appears to lag on customer-friendly technological advances as compared to other utility industries that have embraced some technologies, thus setting higher consumer expectations.
Additionally, these key factors were highlighted in the survey: Cobb ranked highest in price satisfaction including fairness, value, understanding the costs, and ease of understanding the bill. Cobb’s bill design, and rate calculator on the website, were cited as best practices for other utilities. The bill was described as easy to read, informative, and a good tool for helping customers understand their consumption. Also, the rate calculator was recommended for the value it provides to customers in understanding the impact of consumption on their bill, and for the educational component below the calculator that provides an easily understandable explanation of about factors that can influence high bills.
Interestingly, on another score that considers whether your customers are actively promoting the utility (Net Promoter Score –NPS), Cobb County Water was among the highest in the country. So, our customers are out there promoting us! Steve McCullers, Water System Director, attributes Cobb Water’s excellence to our staff. “We have been able to provide high-quality service, with extremely low rates, because of the many years of experience of critical employees.” Great Job Cobb Water!