May 18, 2016 - 11:00 AM EDT
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Robust Water Infrastructure Is Essential to Customer Satisfaction; Water Quality and Reliability Are Critical, Says Inaugural J.D. Power Water Study

California Water Service, Illinois American Water, Miami-Dade County and Monroe County Water Authority Rank Highest in Water Utility Customer Satisfaction in their Respective Regions

LOS ANGELES, May 18, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Considering the high stakes of public health associated with residential water delivery and quality, the state of a water utility's infrastructure is critical to customer satisfaction and, therefore, to a utility's ability to garner support from customers and other stakeholders for improvements, says the J.D. Power 2016 Water Utility Residential Customer Satisfaction Study,SM released today.

J.D. Power corporate logo.

In the most comprehensive Voice of the Customer study of its kind, the inaugural study measures satisfaction among residential customers of 84 water utilities each delivering water to a population of at least 400,000 people and reported in four geographic regions: Midwest, Northeast, South and West. Overall satisfaction is measured by examining 33 attributes within six factors (listed in order of importance): delivery; price; billing and payment; conservation; communications; and customer service. Satisfaction is calculated on a 1,000-point scale.

Bad Taste and Smell of Water Impact Satisfaction the Most: Infrastructure that is not maintained can cause residential delivery interruptions or create water quality problems such as bad taste and bad smell, the two issues that impact satisfaction the most. Delivery satisfaction among the 9% of customers experiencing problems with water taste (646) and among the 6% of customers experiencing smell issues (636) is more than 100 points lower than among those not experiencing any issues (785). More than one-third (34%) of customers indicate having experienced some sort of residential water delivery or quality issue within the last 6 months: the most common issue was low pressure, and the least common was mineral content, including poisonous lead.

According to Regulatory Research Associates,1 it is estimated that over the next 20 years, investments between $385 billion and $1.3 trillion will be required to make the infrastructure improvements necessary to maintain the highest quality of water and residential delivery. 

"Delivering water that is safe to use and drink is the top priority for water utilities. However, many utilities are facing the decay of century-old infrastructures with insufficient funds necessary to make improvements," said Andrew Heath, senior director of the utility and infrastructure practice at J.D. Power. "When facing the need for multi-billion dollar investments, it's no longer good enough to just focus on the water system; it is imperative that water utilities also focus on understanding their customers, who can often be their most effective advocates when it comes to building up support for necessary improvements."

Location Does Not Determine Satisfaction: Study findings show that satisfaction is not driven by location, but rather is driven by the quality of the service they receive from their water utility. Both high- and low-performing utilities are found throughout the United States and throughout each region in the nation. Customer satisfaction is driven less by a utility's location and more by the quality of the product they deliver and how well that utility focuses on their customers.

Following are additional findings of the 2016 study.

  • Price by Region: One-fourth (25%) of customers are not aware of the cost of their monthly water utility service. The customer-reported average monthly cost by region is $79—West; $75—Northeast; $63—South; and $60—Midwest.
  • E-Bill Satisfaction Higher than Paper Bill: Billing and payment satisfaction among the 31% of customers who receive their bill electronically is much higher than among those who receive a paper bill (792 vs. 746, respectively).
  • Communication Recall Builds Satisfying Relationships: Water utilities that communicate with their customers are more likely to build a satisfying customer relationship. Overall satisfaction is higher when a customer recalls a communication in the last 6 months from their water utility than when they don't recall a communication (737 vs. 675, respectively).
  • Awareness of Infrastructure Investment Increases Satisfaction: When customers are aware of their utility's efforts to improve or replace the old infrastructure, conservation satisfaction is 734, compared with 650 when they are not aware. The same holds true when customers are familiar with their utility's efforts to improve water quality (749 vs. 599, respectively).
  • Answering Customers' Questions on First Contact: One key to achieving high customer service satisfaction is answering a customer's question the first time they make contact, compared with making two or more contacts. Among those contacting by phone, satisfaction is 134 points higher when the customer's question is answered on the first contact, compared to when two or more calls are required for an answer (831 vs. 697, respectively). Similarly, when contacts are made online, satisfaction is 91 points higher when questions are answered on the first contact, compared to when two or more contacts are required (827 vs. 736, respectively).

Study Rankings by Region

The following utilities rank highest in customer satisfaction in their respective regions. Notably, two of the utilities are investor owned and two are publicly owned.

  • Midwest: Illinois American Water (investor owned)
  • Northeast: Monroe County Water Authority (publicly owned)
  • South: Miami-Dade County (publicly owned)
  • West: California Water Service (investor owned)

The 2016 Water Utility Residential Customer Satisfaction Study is based on more than 20,000 responses, representing more than 83 million residential customers of the 84 largest water utilities across the United States. The study was fielded in March 2016.  

 

Overall Customer Satisfaction Index Scores                


(Based on a 1,000-point scale)                                           




Midwest Region Customer Satisfaction Index Ranking

Illinois American Water

723

Citizens Energy Group

713

Missouri American Water

713

Aqua-Midwest

709

Saint Paul Regional Water Services

703

Louisville Water

701

Indiana American Water

700

Milwaukee Water Works

692

Detroit Water and Sewerage Dept

686

Midwest Average

686

Greater Cincinnati Water Works

681

City of Chicago

676

Metropolitan Utilities District (Omaha)

676

City of Cleveland

642

City of Columbus

642



Northeast Region Customer Satisfaction Index Ranking

Monroe County Water Authority

736

Aquarion Water Company

735

NYC Environmental Protection

732

Erie County Water Authority

719

New Jersey American Water

718

Aqua-Northeast

703

Northeast Average

703

Boston Water and Sewer Commission

702

Pennsylvania American Water

699

Suffolk County

699

WSSC

691

New York American Water

690

Philadelphia Water Department

683

Suez (United Water)

670

DC Water

667

Regional Water Authority (Connecticut)

655

City of Baltimore

615



South Region Customer Satisfaction Index Ranking

Miami-Dade County

765

Orlando Utilities Commission (OUC)

757

Gwinnett County

736

San Antonio Water System

731

Charlotte Water

725

The Cobb County Water System

725

Palm Beach County

719

City of Dallas

715

City of Fort Worth

714

Metro Water Services (Nashville)

713

MLGW

712

Fairfax Water

707

JEA

706

South Average

705

City of Raleigh

702

City of Oklahoma City

699

City of Newport News

695

El Paso Water Utilities

693

Aqua-South

691

City of Atlanta

687

City of Tampa

687

City of Houston

685

Birmingham Water Works

684

Manatee County

684

Baton Rouge Water Company

679

Pinellas County

669

City of Virginia Beach

668

Austin Water

654

DeKalb County

645

Tulsa Water

642



West Region Customer Satisfaction Index Ranking

California Water Service

729

Colorado Springs Utilities

728

Long Beach Water Dept

721

Anaheim Public Utilities

718

Denver Water

717

California American Water

716

City of Phoenix

716

Eastern Municipal Water District

713

San Gabriel Valley Water Company

713

Las Vegas Valley Water District

711

SFPUC

709

Seattle Public Utilities

706

San Jose Water Company

705

Portland Water Bureau

695

West Average

693

Tucson Water

691

East Bay Municipal Utility District

682

Mesa Water Resources

682

City of San Diego

681

Golden State Water Company

680

City of Sacramento

674

Water Utility Authority (Albuquerque)

671

L. A. Dept. of Water & Power

662

City of Fresno

654

Board of Water Supply (Honolulu)

653

 

Award-Eligible Water Utilities Included in the Study


Company

Executive Name

U.S. Address

Anaheim Public Utilities

Dukku Lee

Anaheim, Calif.

Aqua-Midwest

Christopher H. Franklin

Bryn Mawr, Pa.

Aqua-Northeast

Christopher H. Franklin

Bryn Mawr, Pa.

Aquarion Water Company

Charles V. Firlotte

Bridgeport, Conn.

Aqua-South

Christopher H. Franklin

Bryn Mawr, Pa.

Austin Water

Marc A. Ott

Austin, Texas

Baton Rouge Water Company

Patrick Kerr

Baton Rouge, La.

Birmingham Water Works

Mac Underwood

Birmingham, Ala.

Board of Water Supply (Honolulu)

Ernest Y. W. Lau

Honolulu, Hawaii

Boston Water and Sewer Commission

Henry F. Vitale

Boston, Mass.

California American Water

Robert MacLean

Coronado, Calif.

California Water Service

Martin A. Kropelnicki

San Jose, Calif.

Charlotte Water

Barry M. Gullet

Charlotte, N.C.

Citizens Energy Group

Jeffrey Harrison

Indianapolis, Ind.

City of Atlanta

David Cockrell

Atlanta, Ga.

City of Baltimore

Rudolph S. Chow

Baltimore, Md.

City of Chicago

Thomas H. Powers

Chicago, Ill.

City of Cleveland

Robert L. Davis

Cleveland, Ohio

City of Columbus

Tracie Davies

Columbus, Ohio

City of Dallas

A.C. Gonzalez

Dallas, Texas

City of Fort Worth

David Cooke

Fort Worth, Texas

City of Fresno

Bruce Rudd

Fresno, Calif.

City of Houston

Dale A. Rudick

Houston, Texas

City of Newport News

James M. Bourey

Newport News, Va.

City of Oklahoma City

James D. Couch

Oklahoma City, Okla.

City of Phoenix

Ed Zuercher

Phoenix, Ariz.

City of Raleigh

Ruffin L. Hall

Raleigh, N.C.

City of Sacramento

John F. Shirey

Sacramento, Calif.

City of San Diego

Scott Chadwick

San Diego, Calif.

City of Tampa

Chuck Weber

Tampa, Fla.

City of Virginia Beach

Dave L. Hansen

Virginia Beach, Va.

Colorado Springs Utilities

Jerry Forte

Colorado Springs, Colo.

DC Water

George S. Hawkins

Washington, D.C.

DeKalb County

Lee N. May

Decatur, Ga.

Denver Water

Jim Lochhead

Denver, Colo.

Detroit Water and Sewerage Dept

Gary Brown

Detroit, Mich.

East Bay Municipal Utility District

Alexander R. Coate

Oakland, Calif.

Eastern Municipal Water District

Paul D. Jones II

Perris, Calif.

El Paso Water Utilities

John E. Balliew

El Paso, Texas

Erie County Water Authority

Robert Gaylord

Buffalo, N.Y.

Fairfax Water

Charles M. Murray

Fairfax, Va.

Golden State Water Company

Robert J. Sprowls

San Dimas, Calif

Greater Cincinnati Water Works

Harry Black

Cincinnati, Ohio

Gwinnett County

Ron Seibenhener

Lawrenceville, Ga.

Illinois American Water

Bruce Hauk

Belleville, Ill.

Indiana American Water

Deron Allen

Greenwood, Ind.

JEA

Paul McElroy

Jacksonville, Fla.

L. A. Dept. of Water & Power

Marcie L. Edwards

Los Angeles, Calif.

Las Vegas Valley Water District

John J. Entsminger

Las Vegas, Nev.

Long Beach Water Dept

Chris Garner

Long Beach, Calif.

Louisville Water

Spencer Bruce

Louisville, Ky.

Manatee County

Ed Hunzeker

Bradenton, Fla.

Mesa Water Resources

Chris Brady

Mesa, Ariz.

Metro Water Services (Nashville)

Scott Potter

Nashville, Tenn.

Metropolitan Utilities District (Omaha)

Scott L. Keep

Omaha, Neb.

Miami-Dade County

Lester Sola

Miami, Fla.

Milwaukee Water Works

Sharon Robinson

Milwaukee, Wis.

Missouri American Water

Cheryl Norton

St. Louis, Mo.

MLGW

Jerry Collins

Memphis, Tenn.

Monroe County Water Authority

Nicholas A. Noce

Rochester, N.Y.

New Jersey American Water

William M. Varley

Voorhees, N.J.

New York American Water

Brian Bruce

Merrick, N.Y.

NYC Environmental Protection

Emily Lloyd

New York, N.Y.

Orlando Utilities Commission (OUC)

Kenneth Ksionek

Orlando, Fla.

Palm Beach County

Jim Stiles

West Palm Beach, Fla.

Pennsylvania American Water

Kathy L. Pape

Hershey, Penn.

Philadelphia Water Department

Debra A. McCarty

Philadelphia, Penn.

Pinellas County

Mark S. Woodard

Clearwater, Fla.

Portland Water Bureau

Michael Stuhr

Portland, Maine

Regional Water Authority (Connecticut)

Larry L. Bingaman

New Haven, Conn.

Saint Paul Regional Water Services

Steve Schneider

St. Paul, Minn.

San Antonio Water System

Robert R. Puente

San Antonio, Texas

San Gabriel Valley Water Company

Michael L. Whitehead

West Covina, Calif.

San Jose Water Company

W. Richard Roth

San Jose, Calif.

Seattle Public Utilities

Hoffman, Ray

Seattle, Wash.

SFPUC

Harlan L. Kelly, Jr

San Francisco, Calif.

Suez (United Water)

Eric Gernath

Paramus, N.J.

Suffolk County

Jeffrey W. Szabo

Oakdale, N.Y.

The Cobb County Water System

McCullers, Steve

Marietta, Ga.

Tucson Water

Michael Ortega

Tucson, Ariz.

Tulsa Water

Clayton Edwards

Tulsa, Okla.

Water Utility Authority (Albuquerque)

Mark S. Sanchez

Albuquerque, N.M.

WSSC

Carla A. Reid

Laurel, Md.




Media Relations Contacts
John Tews; J.D. Power; Troy, Mich.; 248-680-6218; [email protected]

For information about the 2016 Water Utility Residential Customer Satisfaction StudySM, visit http://www.jdpower.com/resource/us-water-utility-residential-customer-satisfaction-study

See the online press release at http://www.jdpower.com/press-releases/2016-water-utility-residential-customer-satisfaction-study

About J.D. Power and Advertising/Promotional Rules http://www.jdpower.com/about/index.htm

1 Regulatory Research Associates is a group within S&P Global Market Intelligence.

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To view the original version on PR Newswire, visit:http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/robust-water-infrastructure-is-essential-to-customer-satisfaction-water-quality-and-reliability-are-critical-says-inaugural-jd-power-water-study-300270335.html

SOURCE J.D. Power


Source: PR Newswire (May 18, 2016 - 11:00 AM EDT)

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