Thursday, June 20, 2013
The cartoon depicted above is very telling of most businesses. A customer is trying to tell you that they want something, but the corporate design model doesn't allow it. A line in the public sector I have often heard is we have corporate design standards. I fully admit that something things are good to keep simple and standard, but I think we as strategic thinkers need to think what is really important. Ninety-nine percent of the time it comes down to the bottom line, but in the water business our motto is "quality water-quality service." With that in mind we have made a push to instill that and consider the rate payer as our number one priority. It is truly amazing when you put them first, how everything else falls into place.
An example of a recent interactions. There is a public park development in the City that wants to continue to receive free water. My boss told me that he wanted us to at least not give it away for free until next year. I devised a plan when addressing them that would ensure it. Being involved in development I wanted to show that we too have upfront costs, and it is not all just free money. I started with do you know how much it costs to get water to you? They replied no, and I proceeded to tell them a number that shocked them at our margin of profits. What it did, it allowed them to view us as an equal, and I was able to get out of there without giving water away for free.
A second example is of a developer that is at the last leg of his development, and he can't get the water he needs. It was a very stressful situation, because we were gaining ratepayers, but had invested some capital into the project as well. We were able to calmly work through it, because of my reading of this article. It provide wise to ask the questions that needed to be asked. They are so simple that sometimes it makes you think things are complicated.
In summation, it is important to yourself these questions, all of them and rank them in priority. For us it is important to remember that we are a public utility, but we need to view our rate payers as our customers. If we loose sight of that, we loose what the founders of the public water entity in 1802 Pittsburgh founded us upon. It was on the principal if getting safe water, at an affordable price, and that is the service to the people. I always remind people that we have some of the safest drinking water in the Country. Somewhere ranked around 3rd. We have that water, because we ask who our primary customer is (the rate payer), and we pratice quality water, and quality service.
Until next time...