At the end of the day, water is local, and water is about people. Utilities work hard to serve their communities, and your relationship with your customer should go beyond simply thinking of them as a “ratepayer” and you as the service provider – engaging on a human level is essential to building trust. One of the best ways to achieve that human engagement is face to face – through events.
Your community is key to what you do – these are your customers, the people that depend on you for safe drinking water. Think local when it comes to events, and think of ways that you can get out into the community and engage. Not only will you be meeting your customers, but they’ll have the chance to put faces and humans behind the often-faceless utility bills and water news that, until now, may be all they know about the work that you do. Attend events such as festivals, races, and other community events and take the opportunity to educate those customers about your utility’s services.
You don’t need a formal community-wide event to make human contact with your customers. Conduct your own pop-up events and meet your customers where they are – whether that’s coffee shops, farmer’s markets, breweries, gyms, or parks. By learning places that your customers frequent and engaging them in those locations, you demonstrate that you’re going the extra mile to show that you truly care about your community. Don’t wait for customers to come to you when they have a problem – be proactive and go to them, forging a human connection that will go a long way down the line. If, in the future, they do have a problem, they’ll remember the humans working hard on the other end of their water utility and will likely react with much more grace and understanding than they may have otherwise.
Make sure you’re moving toward positive outcomes with these events. Just showing up and putting faces to names is a powerful way to humanize what you do, but focus on creating a productive, positive experience. Bring educational materials, be prepared to engage those you meet on tough questions, and, most importantly, use this as a jumping off point for an ongoing relationship. Bring a tablet to easily capture email sign-ups for newsletters and updates, and follow up with those you’ve met. Use the in-person touchpoint as a gateway to a more robust, educational relationship with your customer to truly build a powerful foundation of trust and transparency.
To read more tips for customer touch points and to check out the rest of the blog posts in the series, check out our full infographic here.