The Turlock Irrigation District presented its biannual customer satisfaction survey to the Board of Directors, and revealed high satisfaction marks from both residential and commercial polls.
The survey was conducted over telephone by GreatBlue from July 1 to July 9. GreatBlue is partners with Hometown Connections, a branch of the American Public Power Association, of which TID is a member. The survey sample included 400 residential properties and 101 commercial properties and was available in both English and Spanish.
“The goal of this research study was to assess the effectiveness of TID’s ability to serve our customers, identify areas for improvement, and gauge perceptions in planning ahead for our future,” stated Michelle Reimers, TID Director of External Affairs.
For the 2015 survey, customers were asked to rank TID’s capabilities for a variety of factors involving: overall satisfaction with TID, reliable infrastructure, communication, being open and honest about company policies,community involvement, helpful staff, and prompt responses to customers.
The highest residential marks were for TID’s response to customers. 82 percent of people surveyed stated that TID was able to respond promptly to their request.
The second highest mark for the residential areas highlighted the knowledge and helpfulness of TID staff.
The lowest score was for community involvement, which those polled only attributed 69.6 percent.
One of the 44 questions given to residential customers was “How satisfied were with the way the customer service employee handled the call or visit?”
Survey responses ranged from “Very Satisfied” to “DK/Unsure.” This particular poll saw a 75.9 percent “very satisfied” rating from customers, with only 3.2 percent stating “very dissatisfied.”
On responses where dissatisfaction was stated, the customer wasn’t polled as to why they were dissatisfied, but Reimers noted that in many of the cases it was a case where field service needed to be done.
Customer satisfaction ratings remained high for questions involving service from TID employees and how long it took situations to be resolved.
Even on the questions regarding their bill, TID continued to receive high marks. Over 80 percent of customers surveyed agreed that the bills were easy to understand, accurately reflected the amount of use, and contained the information they needed.
The survey generated more diverse results on questions pertaining to expectations. 70.5 percent of customers stated that “good customer service” was their number one priority. “Reasonable/competitive rates” and “provide reliable service” came in as second and third priorities respectively.
When customers were asked to describe their relationship with TID, customers were able to select “advocate,” “loyal customer,” “satisfied,” “less than satisfied,” and “DK/Unsure.” While the 53.3 percent of individuals stated that they are satisfied with TID, Board Director Rob Santos critiqued the diction involved in the survey.
“That’s a silly question,” stated Santos. He questioned what the definition of a TID “advocate” would be.
Reimers responded by saying that an advocate is an individual who would be willing to “stand up, write a letter, or do some advocacy work” for TID.
The survey found that most customers found the extra charge for credit card or e-check payments were unreasonable. Following the presentation of the statistic, the Board discussed its practicality.
Board Members discussed how abandoning the fee would inevitably raise rates in order to cover the cost of people who wanted to pay by card or e-check, however, Santos claimed that TID was also not lowering their overall rates due to the presence of the fee.
Director Santos took the most decisive position stating, “I’m against that $2.95 fee.”
The green energy survey revealed that people wanted to see TID as a leader in green energy, but despite its approval, much fewer people were willing to pay for it. The question saw customers age 18-34 poll at 90.3 percent.
In response to the results, Reimers said, “… I should have, in retrospect, asked…, ‘How much are you willing to pay for it?’ Because those two questions never correlate. It’s always nothing.”
“The thought is that these young respondents are going to form a larger base of our customers… If this is important to them now, it will continue to be important to them.”
The TID customer service survey provided valid information, and as Reimers noted, that will allow TID to “work on some areas of improvement.”