Meeting customer expectations in a fluid utility environment

Posted January 2006

By Roger Patrick and Edward G. Means III

The increasing pressure on water utilities to meet growing regulatory expectations is well known. Customers are also clamoring for utilities' attention, demanding service, safety, and taste, and creating pressure from a different direction. Utilities' primary competition is the bottled water industry because of a public perception of greater safety and better taste. In the service arena, water utilities' are rated about the same as the average private sector organization and slightly higher than the average federal agency.

Meeting customer expectations in a fluid utility environment, presented in the September 2005 edition of the AWWA Journal, is the third in a series on trends and their implications for water utilities. The authors examine how customers rate the service of water utilities compared with other utilities, and discuss how decision-makers and much of the general public are largely unaware of or misinformed about environmental and other issues affecting the water industry. The authors go on to discuss how simply providing high-quality water and engineering excellence are not enough to ensure customer satisfaction and public support, and they provide ideas for improving customer service and satisfaction and countering media misinformation.

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