In a recent blog post by author Seth Godin, he wrote
“How do we deliver the right service to the right audience in the right way? The rising stars of our economy are in this business now, even more than production or finance. If you’re seeking to build awareness, consider building a community instead.”
A definition of the word community is a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals. What about a shared resource—community water? While every person may have different attitudes, interests, and goals about how public funds should be spent, most everyone would agree that safe, clean water is an expectation that all cities are held accountable to.
Water, community, data—the right service, the right audience, the right way.
If we want to build awareness of the value of water, how do we build a community around water? Awareness is the first step of the educational process and information is a vital component. With the right data in place, cities can provide customers with information that empowers them to advocate for water.
We live in a national media market. A community on the other side of the country could have a lead scare that influences your own customers. Imagine if your customers called with fears related to a news story about lead and you had the data to show your community’s lead situation? Better yet, your data was derived from recent testing and not an educated guess. Data management and asset management provide utilities with the kind of information customers perceive as valuable. It’s current, it’s readily available, and it illustrates the work utilities do every day to maintain a system that is largely invisible to the public.
Data and technology help communicate value in a manner that customers are attuned to. They may not understand psi, telemetry, or retention rates but they do understand apps, websites, and customer portals. Use data and technology as a way to be transparent, to exceed customer expectations, and to demonstrate value that earns buy-in, support, and investment down the road.
Water is a product, regardless of the fact that customers rarely have a choice in service. Imagine the shift in mindset if we treated our product as if customers did have a choice. As Seth Godin concluded,
“If you’re working to sell your average stuff to average people (and working overtime to make it cheaper or faster), consider an alternative: serving the most dedicated people with something remarkable.”
If water creates community, what kind of community are you creating? Is it average or remarkable?