A City Manager-sponsored evaluation
of Utilities Customer Service was completed in September 2010, resulting in a 40-point plan to improve business processes, equipment maintenance and upgrades, staff training and procedures to increase efficiency and adjust existing resources to better serve water/sewer customers.
To date, Utilities has begun to notice positive results upon completion of several action items, including:
- A 45 percent reduction in duplicate staff visits to customer homes after adding new handheld field equipment and upgrades to the billing system. These ongoing improvements help field staff fulfill service work orders more thoroughly and consistently, and convey results via a faster, uniform and paperless system with information that is electronically accessible by field, office & phone staff.
- Ninety-seven percent of Utilities telephone requests coming in to CharMeck 311 are processed within the first call, thanks to the creation of a 311 'Escalation Team' (E-Team) dedicated to addressing more complicated Utilities requests. This move has strengthened the relationship and connectivity between Utilities and 311 staff and minimized the need for customers to be transferred to another representative for billing review and assistance.
- Payment arrangement and bill adjustment policies have been updated (and procedures enhanced) to prevent service cut-off of accounts with disputed charges until high bill investigations are completed. The recently implemented one-time dispute resolution policy for qualified accounts has also helped resolve complex account issues.
- Utilities held special on-site neighborhood events for one-on-one account reviews and field inspections to resolve outstanding issues. Utilities staff also provided citizens with information on meters, irrigation, billing and leak detection.
- As a follow-up to the independent meter equipment audit conducted last summer, Utilities started its own ongoing meter audit program to enhance equipment maintenance and inventory control.
- Two pilot projects are under way to test new meter transmitter technology in the following neighborhoods; Peninsula in Cornelius, Faires Farm neighborhood in Charlotte, River Run in Davidson, and Hidden Valley in Charlotte.
Additionally, Utilities has enhanced its pre-billing quality control and high bill inspection processes with more in-depth field investigation and better communication with the customer.
We will continue listening and responding to customers, and are committed to frequent and widely distributed customer service improvement progress updates as they occur.