Q: How did you get the customers to see the value in signing up for the WaterSmart program? Getting contact information can sometimes be a difficult challenge for us.
A: Our utility customers promote the WaterSmart program in a variety of ways:
• Some direct customers to register from their website, bill inserts or newsletters.
• WaterSmart also offers a print Welcome Letter and print Leak Alerts that can be mailed to customers with easy-to-follow instructions for how to register.
• WaterSmart’s Utility Dashboard includes templates that can be emailed to customers inviting them to register. When customers call the utility, phone reps can ask them for their email address and send them a portal invitation.
• One utility used an innovative approach where they would contact customers over the phone and forgive the water lost to the leak if the customer registered with WaterSmart and subscribed to future leak alerts.
• During registration, customers must provide their email address and have the option of providing a phone number. Utilities can opt to subscribe registrants to leak alerts. Registration rates will vary for each utility, depending on which and how many of the above methods they use, but the average registration rate is over 20%.
Q: Can you give an example of configurable leak parameters–what does that mean specifically?
A: There are several ways to configure leak parameters:
• Utilities can configure their leak detection to be more or less conservative. For example, Rincon chose to detect high volume leaks only for high water use of 8 hours or more because they found that many customers were irrigating their large lots for up to 6 hours and did not want to send alerts in that case.
• Utilities can decide whether they want to alert only those customers that have registered on the Customer Portal and subscribed to leak alerts, or if they want to send alerts to any customer for which they have contact information.
• Utilities can opt to only send electronic leak alerts, particularly if they have email addresses or text numbers for a large percent of their customers, or if they want to send print alerts in order to reach a larger set of customers.
• To limit the number of alerts sent, utilities can opt to only alert leaks greater than 15 GPH, for example, or to send no more than a maximum number per day.
Q: Do the leak alerts run through your current IVR system or a separate solution?
A: They run through our system.
Q: To be clear, the leak detection email with a link to potentially fix the leak (with video and how-tos) is available through WaterSmart? Is this an additional module with added cost or a basic part of the package?
A: Yes, this is part of the WaterSmart program.
Q: Emily, Is there a cost for the cell app for customers?
A: There is no charge for use of the Leak Diagnosis and Investigation tool for customers to check for leaks. It is available to all customers via an internet browser which they can access using their computer or web-enabled phone or tablet.
Q: How do you offset/justify the reduction in revenue?
A: While it’s true that alerting a customer to a leak that they resolve will result in a lower bill, there are other hidden costs to not alerting customers to leaks. A large leak can trigger a large bill, which in turn can result in an angry customer call to the utility and requests for leak forgiveness. Early leak detection pre-empts the customer’s bill shock, creates an opportunity for improving customer satisfaction and reduces the loss to due leak forgiveness.
Q: Emily, does the software work with AMR metering that has not converted over to AMI?
A: Yes. We are able to detect and alert leaks for utilities with AMI, AMR or manually read meters. We can also accommodate utilities that have a combination of different types of meters, or who are transitioning to AMI.
Q: Were you able to use the meter data to determine and locate leaks outside the property line?
A: Our system relies on meter data so we can only detect leaks behind the meter.
Q: Does the WaterSmart software include the customer tutorials to help them find leaks, or is that a Rincon addition?
A: This is part of the WaterSmart software.
Q: What percentage of leaks were resolved?
A: About half of customers who start the leak resolution workflow complete it. This includes customers who found leaks, and those that identified the cause of the high use, but which wasn’t actually a leak.
Q: Is it possible to use the WaterSmart notification system for other items, like delinquent bills, or boil water notifications?
A: Yes. WaterSmart offers a tool called Group Messenger which can be used to send email, text and recorded voice messages to user-defined customer segments. Our customers have used Group Messenger to send messages to hundreds of thousands of their customers about a variety of topics, including event reminders, watering schedules, service outages, flushing notices, etc. For more information about Group Messenger, please check out our webinar from last year, Utility Solutions to Influence the Always-On Customer.
Q: Is there a way a water utility may buy into the WaterSmart program on a initial pilot based study of say 20 customers first?
A: Yes, although our pilots typically involve a larger number of accounts so that any results we measure are statistically significant. We’d be happy to discuss a pilot program with you!
Q: How quickly can you reach customers through WaterSmart, eg. 1,000 customers in 30 minutes?
A: The rates depend on the method: Email or Text: tens of thousands per minute | Voice: 3,000 per minute, or 180,000 per hour
Q: will the presentation be available to participants?
A: Yes. The Slides are located here
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