|Effort||Impact on Customers|
|Escalated Issue Team: Not all customer issues are created equal; some are more complex and require more experience and insight to work through with a customer. Our Customer Care and Meter Reading groups are adding staff who will focus on customers with complex issues.
||Dedicated Customer Advocate staff will be the point of contact for customers with complex issues and will work with them throughout the resolution process.
Seasoned Meter Maintenance Task Force staff will troubleshoot complex water usage or metering issues. Staff can also provide insight in identifying problems on the property that may be contributing to the issues the customer is facing.
Customer Advocate and Meter Maintenance Task Force staff can educate the customer throughout the process in identifying the causes contributing to the water issues and in how to prevent them in the future.
|Improved Target Response Time for Rereads: Staff is looking at the process when a customer calls in to dispute a bill and request a reread. The goal is to identify where process improvements and additional resources can reduce response times. Staff anticipates having an improved response time goal, with a plan to meet that goal, by Summer 2017.
Examining Process Started: July 2016
Target Improvement Plan & Goal: Summer 2017
|This will reduce the amount of time it takes for a meter reread when a customer disputes a bill.|
|Customer Care & Field Services Staff Training: Customer Care and Field Services staff will receive training to:
Field Services Training Start: March 2017
|More knowledgeable and courteous customer service staff.|
|Enhanced Citizen Portals: The City will be expanding its online portals. Customers will be able to:
||More convenient reporting options for customers.|
|Effort||Impact on Customers|
|Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) and High Use Alerts: The City is planning to convert its meter system to an Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI). All analog meters will be replaced with digital meters that collect and transmit real-time water use data to the billing network. The City plans to replace all current meters with AMI meters and set up the data transmission network starting in a phased installation over the next 3-5 years. Work is planned to start in Fiscal Year 2017-2018.
Often, the first indication that a customer has a plumbing issue is a high water bill. Because the AMI system will collect water use data in real-time and transmits that data back to the network, customers will be able to receive usage alerts. This should allow customers to be notified that they may have a plumbing problem as early as the same day the problem starts.
Pre-AMI High Use Notification: Since AMI will take several years to be installed system-wide, not every customer will have immediate access to the real-time alert option. The City is also looking into ways that meter readers could be alerted of a customer’s high use as they take a reading. The goal is to have a means to alert customers of high use before they receive their bill.
AMI Feasibility Started: 2016 – ONGOING EFFORT
AMI Implementation Beginning: Fiscal Year 2017-2018 (pending Council approval); 3-5 Year Phased Installation
Start of Early Notification Planning: February 2017
|AMI and High Use Alerts: Customers will know in real time when they have an issue with their water usage, allowing them to make repairs with minimal wasted water.
Pre-AMI High Use Notification: The City will have a way to notify customers of higher than normal use before the customer receives a bill. This will allow them to begin looking for issues with their system or changing water use habits sooner than they might be notified in waiting for their bill.
|Meter Reading Routes: Meter route protocols have changed so no meter reader will read the same route three months in a row.
Started: July 2016
|This will reduce opportunity for skipped reads to go unnoticed. Customers should see fewer estimated bills.|
|Weekly Random Meter Route Recheck: A different meter reading route will be randomly selected to be rechecked by staff from a different section (meter maintenance) each week. At least ¾ of the route will be re-read. If discrepancies above a certain level are found, a third staff member will confirm the correct amount.
Started: July 2016
|Over-time, staff expect to see a reduction in skipped readings and misreads. Customers should see fewer estimated bills.
Real Life Impact Example: Staff recently caught two incorrect reads through the auditing process and corrected the usage before the bills were sent to the customers.
|Consolidated Skipped Meter Report: Skipped reads are now reported in a consolidated report in addition to a master list of individual accounts. The consolidated report lets staff identify which categories cause the most skips.
Started: December 2016
|Staff can justify improvements that reduce skips by focusing on the most common causes. Customers should see fewer estimated bills.
Real Life Impact Example: A high level of “Cannot locate” causes led staff emphasize locating and marking previously hidden meters. Residents may have noticed an increase in blue marks along the right-of-way which are part of this marking effort.
|Effort||Impact on Customers|
|Gap Analysis: Working with an outside agency to identify areas department-wide where processes could be improved both in quality of service delivered and in efficiency.
The Gap Analysis started as an initiative of the Clean Water 2020 program. In 2016, it was expanded to include all of the Department of Utilities & Engineering. It continues through the reorganization of the Department of Engineering and the Department of Utility Operations.
Capital Improvement Project planning will use more data-driven approaches using customer complaint data, asset age, and other performance indicators to prioritize projects.
Started: 2016 – ONGOING EFFORT
|Vision: A high quality product with great customer service.
Values: Providing a level of service as if we have direct competition in our service area.
Over time, customers will see an improvement in service.
Some improvements are already underway as outlined below.
|Reorganization: As part of the Gap Analysis, the Department of Utilities & Engineering and Customer Care were reorganized to bring all water and sewer related services, including billing, under one Assistant City Manager. The Assistant City Manager will oversee the:
Reorganization Planning Started: Summer 2016
Effective Date: January 1, 2017
|Contacts: Customer contacts should not change. Customers can still call 803-545-3300 to report concerns or ask billing questions.
Customer Care and Field Services Reorganization: This elevates customer concern and field service functions higher in the executive management chain for more immediate review and resolution of issues.
Creation of Department of Engineering and Department of Utility Operations: This delineates roles and responsibilities of the Directors of these departments for a more streamlined workload and to achieve efficiencies. Over time, customers will see an improvement in service.
|Customer Service Process Review: The City will be looking at the entire billing cycle, from the customer’s water use to final bill payment, and identifying ways to improve processes. We will review:
Review Planning: Underway
Review to Start: Spring 2017
|This will result in business practice improvements that will improve customer service.|
|Customer Satisfaction Strategy: Improving overall customer satisfaction levels is one goal of the department-wide Gap Analysis.
Redesign of Strategy Started: December 2016
|Over time, customers will see an improvement in service and improved responsiveness to billing and water quality inquiries.|