Customer Research

Revenue quality, arrearage management, and cost of service are based upon customer behavior, water usage and demand. 
Most water suppliers do not know much about what happens on the customer side of the meter. They have not spent the time and money necessary to understand customer behavior and circumstances. This knowledge gap makes planning and budgeting difficult.
In contrast, energy utilities have been conducting customer research for decades. Many millions have been spent to learn about their customers' demographics, behavior and end-uses.  Upon orders by state regulatory agencies, most of this customer research has been paid by a surcharge on the customer’s energy bill.
Socioeconomic and housing characteristics can be used to predict how customers are likely to respond to different initiatives. No two water suppliers are alike.  Conservation programs that work for one water supplier may be ineffective elsewhere because the customers behave differently.  For that reason, analyzing and understanding the customer profile should be an essential part of any utility’s decision-making.  
Issues that should be measured and assessed by customer research include the following:

  • Technical potential – for efficiency and demand management is assessed.
  • Saturation of efficient equipment is measured.
  • Customer attributes differentiated.
  • Customer preferences determined.
  • Participation in each program is calculated.
  • Energy and demand reduction yields established.
  • Revenue projections and budgets established.
  • Cost/benefit analyses performed.

With research data in hand, the water supplier can establish program goals, such as customer participation; yield in water, energy and demand savings; and cost/benefit targets.
For investors and M&A purposes, the customer data can be an important element of the due dilgence process, providing insight into customer valuation, revenue quality and the "good will" value.
In summary, the Waterwatch© survey has proven to be an excellent research tool.   It's cost-effective, modular and easily customized.  Voluntary participation has averaged from 10% to 20% - because customers receive the Waterwatch© Customer Report for their participation .