Posts Tagged ‘customer service’

February 3, 2012

Do I Need Water Service Line Coverage?

Des Moines area residents may recently have received a letter from HomeServe, a company offering water service line coverage.  Although Des Moines Water Works believes such a service could be of value to our customers and we are, in fact, in the process of creating a program that we could recommend to our customers, Des Moines Water Works does not endorse HomeServe at this time and did not provide any customer information to the company.

The letter correctly states the property owner is responsible for the water service line from the main to your home or business, which includes the stopbox.  Leaks in the service line or an inoperable stopbox can be expensive to repair, which is why DMWW is researching solutions for customers who wish to protect themselves from the risks associated with their water service line.  In our research, we have found most plans offer only limited coverage and do not cover all aspects of the service line, such as an inoperable stopbox.  We are thoroughly researching service providers and plans and will select a partner we can recommend only after a thorough and rigorous review of the company’s qualifications and services.  We anticipate a program that DMWW can fully endorse will be available to our customers later this year.

“Before selecting any service provider or coverage, we encourage customers to ask questions specifically related to the coverage offered to ensure it covers the service line from the tap to the home or business, including the stopbox, and to be sure the offer is made by a reputable company,” said Randy Beavers, CEO and General Manager.

DMWW considers ourselves your partner in ensuring you receive a quality product and service for all aspects of your water service, and we take very seriously our mission to provide responsive services that provide high value to our customers.  We cannot affirm that HomeServe’s offering meets this high standard.

If you have any questions, please contact Des Moines Water Works at (515) 283-8700.

Posted by: Amy Kahler 6 Comments
Labels: , , , , , Posted in Customer Service November 6, 2011

New Website Look & Customer Features

Des Moines Water Works’ website has a new look.  But the most exciting changes are in the enhanced customer features.

Des Moines Water Works (DMWW) listened to customer suggestions for more functionality to online customer accounts, including consumption alerts.  Don’t be surprised by a high water bill anymore. DMWW’s new website will offer customers the ability to set a daily consumption threshold – an amount you choose that represents normal water use for your account.  If your daily consumption exceeds that on any given day, an automated alert will be sent to an email account you provide.

“We encourage customers to save money and save water by taking advantage of the consumption alert feature available on our new website,” said Amy Kahler, Director of Customer Service and Marketing.  “Too many times, customers don’t notice a leaking toilet until they open their water bill and find that it has doubled or even tripled its normal amount. The new alert feature allows customers to be notified as the leak is occurring and promptly correct it, avoiding wasted water and the surprise of a large bill.”

Other new customer account features include the ability to:

    • Create your own username and password
    •  Manage multiple accounts under one profile (log in)
    • Change and store bank/credit card information
    • Schedule payments
    • View consumption for the last 13 months
    • Sign up for E-statements and/or automated payment methods

Other basic improvements to the website include a cleaner layout and simplified navigation.  We encourage you to visit www.dmww.com and become an online account user or update your profile.  We are confident you will like the new look and feel of our website, and will find the new features very convenient and easy to use.

DMWW remains committed to servicing your account.  Customer service representatives are available to assist you with questions about your DMWW account between the hours of 7:30 am to 5:30 pm Monday through Friday at (515) 283-8700.

Posted by: Laura Sarcone 13 Comments
Labels: , , , , , Posted in Customer Service July 11, 2011

Enhancements to Customer Service

In listening to customers’ feedback, Des Moines Water Works has initiated three new programs in the past year to bring more value to our customers.  All of these programs are technology driven and have been implemented in response to customer requests.

The “E-Statement” program began in early 2010 with roughly 1,000 customers signing up the first month.  Currently, there are just short of 4,000 customers taking advantage of this program.  “E-Statements” is a way for customers to receive their billing statements electronically via an email from DMWW, cancelling the mailing of a statement to their address.  The email that is sent to the customer indicates the amount due and the date charges become past due.  They then may logon to their account through www.dmww.com to view the entire statement, make payments, view consumption history, etc.  Customers who use E-statements save the utility money in paper, envelopes, postage, etc.  At our current level of 4,000 users, the utility saves $20,000 each year, which helps us keep water rates low.  Consider subscribing to E-statements—it’s convenient, protects against identity theft, reduces your home’s “bill clutter,” and saves the environment!

In February of 2011, DMWW began accepting “E-Check” or electronic payment from a checking or savings account.  Customers may pay by check through their account on www.dmww.com, over the telephone via our automated phone system, or with a live customer service representative over the phone.  The customer provides the bank routing number, bank account number, and amount to be paid and DMWW electronically debits their specified account.  There is no charge for this service and over 8,000 customers took advantage of this program in June of 2011 alone!  E-checks have reduced credit card payments by 50%, which has significantly reduced the utility’s costs, as credit cards are more expensive for the utility to process.  Other payment methods accepted are cash, check, credit/debit card, and money orders.

In early 2010, DMWW also began making pre-termination courtesy calls to customers scheduled to have their water service terminated.  Customers continue to receive termination notices in the mail and are encouraged to respond promptly to the notice.  The calls are just one more service DMWW now provides to assist customers in managing their account and avoid service termination.   These pre-termination courtesy calls have been very popular with customers and have helped the utility reduce service terminations by 30%.  Ensure your telephone information is up-to-date by calling us at (515) 283-8700.

Des Moines Water Works continues to strive to deliver programs and options that are valued by our customers.   What’s on your mind—what could we do to improve our level of service to you?

Posted by: Cory Waddell No Comments
Labels: , , Posted in Customer Service, Customers May 16, 2011

Des Moines Water Works Offers Language Line Services

Des Moines Water Works valora la diversidad y se complace en servir a una población diversa de clientes en el área metropolitana de Des Moines. Nuestros clientes son muy importantes para nosotros, y es fundamental que nuestros clientes se sientan cómodos comunicándose con nosotros. Estamos tratando de mejorar en la forma en que nos comunicamos, y se han traducido algunas de nuestras piezas de comunicación con el cliente en español. Si bien estos esfuerzos son en curso, estamos orgullosos de que por muchos años, de Des Moines Water Works ha ofrecido servicios de traducción para los clientes que no hablan Inglés. Los clientes pueden llamar al Servicio al Cliente al (515) 283-8700 y simplemente informar al representante que no hablan Inglés. El Representante de Servicio al Cliente determina el idioma que hablen y se establece una llamada de conferencia a tres bandas con el cliente y el proveedor de servicios de nuestra traducción, Language Line Services. Language Line Services es un servicio de traducción que ofrece más de 140 diferentes idiomas y está disponible las 24 horas del día, 7 días a la semana. Los clientes que visiten la oficina en persona también podrá hacer uso de este servicio. DMWW utiliza Language Line Services 40-70 veces por mes, con la contabilidad de las traducciones Inglés-Español para más del 95% de las llamadas.

Translation:

Des Moines Water Works values diversity and is pleased to serve a diverse customer population in the Des Moines metro area.  Our customers are very important to us, and it’s critical that our customers feel comfortable communicating with us.  We are trying to improve in the way we communicate, and have translated some of our customer communication pieces into Spanish.  While these efforts are ongoing, we are proud that for many years, Des Moines Water Works has offered translation services for our non-English speaking customers.  Customers may call Customer Service at (515) 283-8700 and simply advise the representative that they do not speak English.  The Customer Service Representative determines what language they speak and establishes a three-way conference call with the customer and our translation services provider, Language Line Services.  Language Line Services is a translation service that offers over 140 different languages and is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  Customers visiting the office in person may also take advantage of this service.   DMWW utilizes Language Line Services 40-70 times per month, with English-Spanish translations accounting for over 95% of the calls.

Posted by: Amy Kahler No Comments
Labels: , , , Posted in Customer Service, Customers March 21, 2011

Who Owns What?

Des Moines Water Works (DMWW) provides water to its customers and maintains the water mains required to deliver water to homes and businesses.  DMWW also owns the water meter used to measure consumption.

Property owners are responsible for the connection (tap) to the water main and the piping (service line) that carries water from the main to the meter.  The property owner is also responsible for protecting and providing access to the water meter.

When a problem occurs, DMWW staff will assist the property owner in determining the cause of the problem and the appropriate course of action.

Stop Boxes

What is a stop box?  The stop box houses the valve used to turn the water service on and off to a property.  It is usually located in the public right of way.  DMWW requires that the stop box be operable at all times.

Who owns the stop box?  The property owner owns the stop box and is responsible for its repair.

How does the stop box operate?  To operate the stop box, a long key is placed inside the housing and lowered onto the valve to turn the water service on or off.  Sometimes, due to age or damage, the stop box does not operate, requiring repair.

Why is the stop box operated?  DMWW will operate the stop box:

  • To terminate service at the owner’s request when a property is sold.
  • To cut water service for internal plumbing repairs.
  • At a rental property to discontinue water service when the tenant is moving.
  • When a customer fails to make timely payment on their water bill.

Repairs

What are the reasons for repair?

  • When the stop box is too high or too low.  The top of the stop box should be level with the ground.
  • If the stop box is located under concrete or asphalt, a repair must be made so that the stop box is accessible.
  • If the housing for the stop box becomes bent and the key cannot be lowered into the housing.
  • If the rod is loose in the stop box and does not connect to the valve.
  • When the valve does not operate.

Who will make the repairs?  DMWW is not licensed to make plumbing repairs and we recommend that you contract the services of a licensed plumber.  If you do not make repair arrangements, DMWW will contract the services of a plumber and bill the charges to your account.

How much will it cost for repairs?  Stop box repairs range in cost, depending on several factors, such as which part of the box needs repaired, whether the box is in concrete, etc.  Repairs can range in cost between $600 and $2,000. While boxes can become inoperable over time for many reasons, the best way to protect your box is to prevent it from unnecessary operation by keeping your account current.

Other Questions

What if my service line starts to leak?  Please notify DMWW at (515) 283-8700 if you notice water leaking and our representative will assist in determining the location of the leak.  Sometimes it is difficult to determine the source of the leaking water as it follows the path of least resistance and does not always come to the surface right near the leak.  Once located, the property owner will be notified to contact a licensed plumber to make repairs to the leaking service line.

What if my service line starts to leak and water is not coming to the surface of the ground?  During our routine leak survey of the distribution system, using electronic leak detection equipment, leaks are sometimes located that don’t come to the surface.  Our leak detection personnel will attempt to determine the source of leaking water and inform you of its general location.

Who is responsible for the water meter?  The water meter is usually located in the basement or in a meter pit outside the building.  The property owner is responsible for protecting the meter from freezing temperatures and providing access to the meter and meter reading equipment.  The water meter is owned by DMWW.

If you need additional assistance, please call (515) 283-8771.

Posted by: Ted Corrigan No Comments
Labels: , , , , , , Posted in Customer Service, Customers February 21, 2011

Understanding Your Water Bill

Most of us go to the faucet for a glass of water and don’t think a thing about it, like how it got there or what it cost for the glass of water.  The only time we really give it much thought at all is when we receive our monthly “water bill.”

If I asked you how much you pay for water each month, what would you tell me?  About $65?  Did you know the average customer in Des Moines pays only $16 or $17 a month for all the water they use inside their home?  Water service is perhaps the greatest bargain in my home month after month.  I cook with it.  I drink it.  I bathe my kids in it.  I toil through loads (and loads!) of laundry with it.  It doesn’t run out, and I don’t have to run to the store to get it.  It makes my life simple, all month long, for only $16.

It’s easy for us to forget water is such a great bargain, because our “water bill” runs higher than that every month.  That’s because the Des Moines Water Works statement you receive has other services on it besides water–other services that also make your life convenient and easier.  Here’s a run-down of your bill (see example bill statement below):

Water charges (A) – The cost of water is typically half the total on your monthly “water bill.”  Water charges are determined based on the amount of water you use and the water rate per thousand gallons as established by the DMWW Board of Trustees.  In addition to this volume charge, each customer pays a flat availability fee each month of $5.00.  This covers fixed costs, such as the cost of the meter inside your home, the statement you receive each month, the pipes and mains that bring the water to your home, etc.  You can find the amount of water consumption at the bottom of your statement each month (B).  Because of the types of meters DMWW uses, water consumption is shown in cubic feet.  If you want to know how many gallons you use a month, multiply your consumption in cubic feet by 7.4805.  For example, a typical 2-person household uses 500 cubic feet, or 3,740 gallons each month.

City charges – The City of Des Moines contracts with Des Moines Water Works to bill for City charges, including sewer, stormwater, and solid waste. 

  • Like water charges, sewer charges (C) are based on the amount of water you use each month (the water you use in your home eventually goes through the sanitary sewer system as it leaves your home), but the rates are set by the City of Des Moines.  There is also a flat customer service charge for fixed costs associated with the sanitary sewer system.
  • Solid Waste charges (D) reflect the cost of curbside garbage removal inside the City of Des Moines.
  • Stormwater charges (E) are paid by all City residents to provide funding for the maintenance of existing stormwater facilities and for the construction of new facilities to accommodate stormwater run-off. 

City ordinance requires that property owners pay non-metered charges (sewer customer service charge, stormwater, and solid waste) when the service is available, regardless if a property is inhabited or the service is used.

 

Understanding your water bill is key to understanding and appreciating the value of water service delivered right to your faucet.  As for me?  I wouldn’t want to live without it…even if it meant getting out of doing laundry.

Posted by: Amy Kahler 1 Comment
Labels: , , , , , , Posted in Customer Service January 12, 2011

New Payment Option

Des Moines Water Works is excited to offer new enhancements to our existing payment options.  Beginning February 1, 2011, customers may now choose to pay by Electronic Check. “E-check” is offered at no cost to customers and will be available via the automated phone system, www.dmww.com account log-in, and over the phone with a customer service representative.

Also effective February 1, 2011, a convenience fee of $2.00 will be charged on credit card payments made by website or by telephone, whether by automated phone system or with a live customer service representative.  There will be no credit card convenience fee on credit card transactions made at DMWW general office or through our credit card recurring payment program.

DMWW offers several ways to pay your monthly statement. Choose the method that best works for you! Please remember, for your safety and ours, DMWW service staff does not accept payments while working in the field.

  • Direct Pay:  Your monthly charges are paid automatically by your financial institution. Payments are debited from your account 10 days after the billing date. Visit www.dmww.com or call (515) 283-8700 to request a Direct Pay form today.
  • Recurring Payment by Credit Card:  Your monthly charges are paid automatically by a Visa or MasterCard of your choice. Payments are debited from your account 10 days after the billing date. Visit www.dmww.com or call (515) 283-8700 to set up Recurring Payment by Credit Card.
  • www.dmww.com Account Log-in:  Pay by E-check, credit or check card, set-up Recurring Payment by Credit Card, view billing statements and payment history.
  • DMWW Customer Service Contact Center:  Call (515) 283-8700 to make payments by credit card and E-check anytime, any day. If you require assistance, customer service representatives are available 7:30 am-5:30 pm, Monday through Friday.
  • Payments are still accepted at our general office and many metro area pay stations. For a list of pay stations, visit www.dmww.com. Please be advised that some pay stations now charge a $2.00 fee (DMWW does not regulate or receive these fees).

As a reminder, if you wish to go “paper free” with your monthly statements, you can sign up for E-statements at www.dmww.com. Please contact a customer service representative at (515) 283-8700 if you have any questions regarding payment options or to request E-statements.

Posted by: Amy Kahler 4 Comments
Labels: , , , , , Posted in Customer Service November 10, 2010

How Do We Define “Quality” in Drinking Water?

Quality is one of those rare words that everyone knows, but few can define. In basic use, it implies a degree of worth or excellence. Digging a little deeper, we say that it is a distinguishable aspect of something or someone, and perhaps not necessarily a good aspect. When we speak of quality drinking water, what exactly do we mean, and what are the standards for high quality?

The Safe Drinking Water Act established 10 regulated parameters in 1974. Now there are about 100. Water supplied by municipal systems like DMWW must not contain more than specified amounts of these regulated parameters—the primary drinking water standards. These are standards or limits on certain pollutants that may present a health hazard if found your drinking above a certain concentration.

Water can meet the regulations for these primary standards, but still be nearly impossible to drink because of objectionable tastes, odors, or appearance. Substances that do not pose a health hazard, but can diminish the quality of drinking water, include iron, manganese, certain salts, excess hardness, and algae.

Finally, most people associate high quality water with acceptable water pressure at the tap, cost, and service dependability.

Staff at DMWW strives to produce water that meets customers’ definition of “high quality” in every way. DMWW water has met all regulations for the primary drinking water standards for nearly 20 years running. Tests are conducted and treatment processes are monitored hundreds of times a day to ensure that the water will taste good and enter your home without objectionable odors. Our field service and distribution employees strive to deliver acceptable pressure and dependable service at the tap through extensive monitoring of our piping systems. And all staff strives to produce safe Water You Can Trust for Life at an affordable cost to Des Moines area residents. Quality water is a quality of life issue, so if the water entering your home does not meet your standards for quality, be sure to let us know.

Posted by: Chris Jones No Comments
Labels: , , , , Posted in About Us, Customer Service, Employees, Water Quality November 5, 2010

Winterize Today and Beat the Cold

Cold, winter weather will soon be upon us. Take advantage of the temperate, fall conditions to do some winterizing around your home.  Here are a few tips to help you prevent your pipes from freezing:

  • Cover the pipes in your attic, crawl spaces, and unheated garage with pipe insulation, heat tape or heat cables.  Make sure you use material safe for pipe insulation. The more insulation you use, the better your pipes will be protected. 
  • Seal any leaks allowing cold air inside your home with caulk or insulation.  Leaks are commonly found around dryer vents, pipes, and electrical wiring.  Even a small air leak can cause your pipes to freeze during severely cold weather.
  • Disconnect garden hoses and store them indoors during the winter.  Cover your outdoor faucets with faucet covers, or wrap them in old rags and cover with plastic.  If possible, drain water from pipes leading to outdoor faucets by shutting off the indoor valve.
  • Open cabinet doors that cover plumbing on extremely cold nights.  This lets heat move to areas in your home where pipes are not insulated, such as under sinks.
  • Set the thermostat no lower than 55F (12C) if you are leaving your home for an extended period of time.  Turn off the water and drain your pipes. Fire protection sprinkler systems will deactivate automatically after the water is shut off.

Reminder for Winter Vacationers

Contact a Des Moines Water Works Customer Service Representative at (515) 283-8700 with your departure and expected return dates.  If you plan to leave your water on while you are gone, ask a trusted friend or neighbor to periodically check your home.  Also, make sure you leave emergency contact information with that person.

Posted by: Amy Kahler No Comments
Labels: , , , , Posted in Customer Service, Customers October 5, 2010

Des Moines Water Works Customer Service Survey Results

Des Moines Water Works places much emphasis on delivering not only quality water, but also quality customer service.  Occasionally, I hear a customer exclaim that “Des Moines Water Works doesn’t have to care what customers think because you’re a monopoly—I don’t have a choice where to get my water.”  While it is true customers in the metro area cannot select another public water supplier, I disagree that Des Moines Water Works doesn’t care what customers think.  Quite the contrary.

Every couple years, DMWW formally surveys our customers.  In May, we sent surveys to 3,000 randomly selected residential customers.  This is not a brief questionnaire, and we were thrilled to receive 758 surveys back, for a response rate of 25.3%.   In overall satisfaction, the utility received a rating of 4.49 out of 5, with 5 being Very Satisfied.  When customers were asked to rank service providers, DMWW tied with Des Moines Fire.  To be ranked with the heroes in the Fire Community who save our houses and families upon disaster says a lot about the service DMWW delivers to our customers, and our customers’ satisfaction and appreciation for that service.  In comparison to satisfaction scores in our last survey in 2006, Water Quality and In home Customer Service were the areas most improved.  Interestingly, those were the two areas identified for improvement four years ago.  Think we don’t listen?  Think again.

Our Customer Service Contact Center slid a little in terms of satisfaction, as did the water availability and uninterrupted water service categories. Our commitment to you, our customer, is to take a look at those areas and identify how we can improve them.

As in prior years, our customers told us that water quality and uninterrupted water service  are the two most important services we provide.  Somewhat surprisingly this year, however, was that customers ranked Water Works Parks #3 in importance.  Des Moines Water Works is unique in that we offer more than 1,500 acres of public park land.   You have spoken loud and clear that Water Works Parks are important to you, and as we continue to develop our parks’ identities, we will consider your needs related to this unique aspect of our operations.

If you’re interested in reading the full Voice of the Customer Survey, check it out here.

What do you think of our customer service?  What do we do well, and what should we focus on improving in the future?  It’s your voice.  Make it heard.  We’re listening.

Posted by: Amy Kahler No Comments
Labels: , , , Posted in Customer Service, Customers