Some Good, Some Not So Good for Evansville Water and Sewer Utility

The EWSU reports findings from customer survey.
Evansville, IND- It was at the forefront of public attention during this past winter season.

With a seemingly new water main break to deal with nearly everyday, on top of concerns about that chemical plume that came from upriver... the EWSU had a rough winter too.

Back in February, the water & sewer service provider opened up an online survey to gather customer feedback and identify opportunities to improve.

The Utility collected 1,023 completed surveys, a sampling reflective of Evansville census data.

Summary of findings: 

Surveys were collected Feb. 3 to 24, 2014.
· 50 customers supplied their contact information and requested personal follow-up from the Utility via phone or email. Follow-up contact has been conducted or attempted with those customers.

Most Favorable Attributes: 
Customers expressed the most positive sentiments toward EWSU for: 
· Providing safe and reliable water services to customers. 
· Treating customers with courtesy and respect. 

Least Favorable Attributes
According to customers, EWSU fared least favorably for: 
· Being a financially sound organization. 
· Planning for the future growth and needs of Evansville. 

The Federal Mandate and Renew Evansville: 
The City of Evansville and EWSU are under a federal mandate to comply with the Clean Water Act of 1972, update the City's aging sewer system and improve operations. It will be the largest capital improvement project in Evansville's history. Renew Evansville is EWSU's plan to address those needs. 
· 61% of customers stated they had heard of the federal mandate, and feedback suggests customers have a good understanding of what the city must accomplish through the plan. 
· 38% of customers cited having seen or heard something about Renew Evansville. 
· The community has a high expectation for completing the federally mandated projects quickly, with only 14% of people understanding it will take more than 20 years to complete. 

Water and Sewer Rates: 
Although Evansville's water and sewer rates are lower than many nearby Indiana cities, survey feedback suggests the majority of EWSU customers believe their rates are higher. (See graphics.) 
· 54% expressed opinions that EWSU water rates are higher than other cities. 
· 62% of respondents expressed opinions that EWSU sewer rates are higher than other cities. 

Paying Bills
· While customers indicated they pay their EWSU bills in a variety of ways, the majority [54%] indicated they pay via mail. 
· Those using some method of online payment or recurring payments had the most favorable opinions regarding options for paying their bills. 

Communication with Customers: 
· 47% of customers indicated they prefer to receive information from EWSU on their monthly bill. 
· 30% prefer receiving email communication from the Utility. 

Opportunities for Potential Services: 
Customers expressed interest in a variety of potential services that could be offered by EWSU, including: 
· Budget billing plan that evens out payments each month [33%]. 
· Paperless billing [33%]. 
· Monthly newsletters with tips for homeowners [33%]. 

"There were no major surprises in the data," Allen Mounts, director of EWSU said. "But the research very clearly affirmed areas the Utility is performing well in and where we can improve," he added.

Mounts said EWSU has already begun information-gathering on many of the services customers expressed interest in, including a more standard 8 ½" x 11" customer bill, which would enable more opportunities to communicate with customers about their service, conservation tips and important updates.

Additionally, EWSU is reviewing text messaging services and an app, which would provide a new means for communication with customers on mobile devices.
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