One question posed was about an example of a system to define levels of service with communities. It seems like a great collaboration in theory but not necessarily easy to do in practice, the participant commented.
I would say that’s probably true, that it is a little bit harder to do in practice than in theory because you do have to go out and seek your customer input, and that’s not always easy to do.
Because as Ross mentioned, we kind of talked about the 15% at the top, the 70% in the middle, and the 15 at the bottom.
Who are the customers you typically hear from? Your 15% at the bottom who are complaining about whatever.
And then you don’t want to base all your level of service standards on those people who are complaining.
You want to have it across the board; what do my customers really want?
So I think there are some difficulties in getting that customer input when you’re first sending your level of standards.
Ross if you can come in on how maybe New Zealand has done gathering your customer data or how they handled that piece.
Yes, and I think the thing is you’re going to go back to set service level of standards to start with.
Because every utility authority in the world already has a set of service levels of standards that have been worked out over a long period of time – as long as they’ve been in business – based on what people wanted.
It’s just you haven’t called them levels of service and you haven’t documented them.
But, a really simple example is if your community wants a fast response to breaks.
And so maybe you’ve got your response of a crew on site down to an hour or even half an hour, depending on what people are being prepared to pay for.
And that had been the norm in your community or your water authority. That’s a service level.
That service level is our response to a site for half an hour, an hour or two hours or three hours – whatever it is – based on your circumstances. That’s nothing new.
That’s something you’ve worked out over a long period of time. Maybe you’ve got some other service levels set by permits or things like that.
So the first thing that you need to do when you’re sorting out service levels is sit down and try and write down what you’ve got now. What am I doing right now?
That’s where we started because back in New Zealand — well, we know we do all these things but how do we turn that into service levels speak.
And so we sat down and write those down and it was things like pressure, and it was things like a response to customers, and time on sites, and the longest period of an outage that we want.
If we had a planned shutdown, you’d have service level around notifying people publicly and stuff like that.
Or if it’s unplanned shut down that you’re supposed to try and notify down the street with a loudspeaker or something like that, before you do it.
Those are all levels of service. Even the cost per year or per month or per unit of water that you may supply can be a service level.