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Keeping Consumer Confidence During Water Meter Replacement Projects

Take Away Action Tip: Tell your water customers exactly who will be doing the meter replacements, and what they will be doing, like in this short video about Water Meter Replacement Technicians

Installing and periodically replacing water meters has been occurring with public water systems for over 100 years. Technology and accuracy have drastically changed in metering systems, but some things remain the same: building owner or consumer participation in the project. The location of the water meter can dramatically affect the level of participation necessary with building owners during each meter replacement. In this article, we breakdown 3 proven strategies to help ensure consumer confidence during a water meter replacement project.

When replacing water meters in their service area, public water system officials are faced with an important goal: ensuring a positive water customer experience during the project through the avatars of water utility employees or a meter replacement vendor.

To sum up the goal, “keep customers happy and get the work done”. But let’s be real, problems that occur during meter replacements are nearly inevitable to some extent. With smart tactics, planning, and communication, turning negative situations into positive lessons can be achieved throughout the project. This less-often discussed reality of a water meter replacement project takes spreading awareness, time commitments, and positive consumer engagement; here’s why:

Public Awareness

Communicate often, remind periodically, and repeat. Having consistent messaging that reaches building owners/occupants and clearly defines the necessary participation far in advance can pay dividends for an overall positive completion of a meter replacement. Utilizing a variety of channels to inform and engage water customers including video content, text, and graphics has been proven to be more effective in reaching a wider audience as different people learn and absorb information in different ways.

According to a digital article published in 2021 by Bay Atlantic University, one of the popular theories on modes of learning is “the VARK model. This model identifies four types of learners: Visual, Auditory, Kinesthetic, Reading/Writing. Most people are a combination of these four styles, but more times than not, they have a predominant style of learning.” By combining these different types of content, more water customers can be reached and educated on the reasons and benefits of willingly participating in a water meter change out project.

Replacement Day Commitments

Time is second only to money in terms of what most water customers deem valuable to them. When they are told their city or utility is replacing water meters, questions immediately pour in, asking questions like “when is this happening?” and “do I need to be there?” One way to ensure a smooth replacement is allowing the water customer to schedule a day and time for their water meter changeout. Official postal notifications could be sent out for the notification of individuals who are due to have their meters changed out; this ensure that there are no surprises when the water service to a water customer’s home or business is shut off for 15-30 minutes.

While this takes quite a hefty administrative effort, giving water customers the ability to schedule appointments (especially in colder climates, where many water meters are inside of buildings) gives them a sense of control and ownership over the process.

Positive Engagement

Keeping the lines of communication open for water customers is key to a successful program while mitigating any issues or complaints for the city or utility. Publishing an educational page on the program on the municipal website, sending out postal notifications, posting on city or utility social media accounts, having staff on standby ready to answer phone calls, and making post appointment checkups, either with a call or a request to fill out a survey, are all touchpoints that show the water customer that their experience and their feedback is important.

While all of this may seem overwhelming and the last thing a busy public works director or water utility supervisor needs on their desk, that’s where picking the right contractor or vendor comes into play. By thoroughly vetting a potential partner, busy utility managers will be able to distinguish between trustworthy vendors who have the materials, staff, and management skills to treat their water customers well and ensure them a positive water meter replacement experience through their application of care, time, and engagement.

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(844) 493-7646

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