Over the past four years, KC Water has undergone a gradual yet noticeable transformation from a sluggish municipal department, to a customer-focused and data-driven public utility. As water and wastewater rates have risen to pay for much-needed and long-overdue infrastructure improvements, customers in turn have justifiably expected a bigger return on their investment – primarily in the level of customer service they receive.
Terry Leeds, KC Water’s Director since 2012, is a firm believer in the power of data and of the classic management adage “what gets measured gets done.” To that end, KC Water has adopted a Department-wide Balanced Scorecard, consisting of 50 distinct Performance Indicators. Measurable indicators include how quickly a customer’s phone call is answered, how many miles of water and sewer line are replaced, and the reduction in job-related injuries. As a result, customers have benefitted from infrastructure improvements, have noticed faster repair and restoration times, and have experienced an enhanced level of customer service – all measurable Performance Indicators.
In order to determine how customers feel about the work we’re doing, KC Water implemented two distinct customer-focused initiatives. First, in 2012, KC Water implemented a quarterly Customer Satisfaction Survey. Measuring 400 customers each quarter, the survey provides high-level customer perception data, and enables KC Water to identify opportunities for improvement as well as to benchmark ourselves against other water utilities. Secondly, in 2015, KC Water launched a comprehensive Voice of the Customer program where “listening posts” were established at key customer touch-points, through which customers have the opportunity to provide post-interaction feedback. Customers are able to quickly and easily share their insights regarding their recent experience with us as well as their expectations of us. Their feedback is collected via an online survey tool that automatically feeds into a digital dashboard that measures customer satisfaction (How happy are they after doing business with us?) and customer effort (How easy was it to do business with us?). Over the past 10 months, we’ve received over 18,000 survey responses, which have proved to be an invaluable source of detailed and actionable information regarding how we can better serve our customers.
In November 2015, we had the opportunity to visit with The Kansas City Star regarding the improvements the utility has made to date. The article, “Kansas City water department turns tide toward improving service,” provides a helpful look at the progress KC Water has made over the past few years, but it also reminds us that opportunities for improvement remain. Through our customer-focused and data-driven approach, we will continue to strive to better serve our customers while keeping our commitment to providing excellent water, wastewater, and stormwater services for today’s customer’s and future generations.