As a utility and water service provider we do essential work. And we know our work directly affects the lives of the people we proudly serve, 24-7. Many of us in the mid-Atlantic experienced life without electricity, gas, food, water, etc., last year during Hurricane Sandy and the year before during Hurricanes Lee and Irene. It was uncomfortable and inconvenient to put it mildly.
While United Water has no control over where and when natural disasters strike, we do have control over how we prepare, respond and provide people with information that they can use to make decisions. We also have control over the lessons that we learn and how we go about using them for improvement.
Following Hurricane Sandy, we expanded our Social Media presence to communicate regularly and especially during emergencies with our customers. Twitter and Facebook channels exist in addition to; regular customer service lines, direct calls to customers, our website, traditional media etc.
With social media we can be more timely with the information we provide so that customers can be more informed about what we’re doing. For example, during a water main break or a prolonged outage, we can and do provide accurate information, estimated service restoration times and details about how to obtain water in the interim.
Social media also enables us to receive information from customers to improve our operations and target our response. By way of coming attraction, we are developing and piloting a crowdsourcing application for mobile phones that will ultimately enable customers to report potential water service issues such as an open fire hydrant, a leaky pipe or even a water main break. We expect to roll this application out in 2014.
In addition to talking with customers and community members about water service issues, we provide educational information to our followers about smart water use, conservation, etc.
And we listen. We want to know what else we should be doing to meet customer expectations.
So no matter what role you play in this extended community—customer, client, lawmaker, United Water employee, regulator, or environmentalist—we appreciate when you to ask questions and challenge us to do better.
We’re listening to comments on our blog and to feedback on our social media channels. So follow the one closest to where you live and please, chime in!