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Satisfaction among Indianapolis Water customers now greatly exceeds the national average for U.S. utilities, according to an independent survey conducted for the City of Indianapolis' Department of Waterworks and Veolia Water Indianapolis LLC, operator of the nation's largest water partnership. With satisfaction levels increasing for two consecutive years, the survey found that 83% of all customers were either "totally satisfied" (35%) or "mostly satisfied" (48%) with service provided by Veolia Water Indianapolis, the operator of Indianapolis Water. The national average for utilities is 70%.
"This report is no accident," says Kathy Humphrey, Veolia Water Indianapolis vice president of customer and government relations. "The improvement in customer service has come through systematic review of processes and making changes that positively impact our customers. We've invested in technology and people, always reviewing our program through quality-assurance methodology."
Overall customer satisfaction was 73% in 2002, rose to 76% in 2003 and jumped to 83% in 2004. The improvement in "overall customer satisfaction" extended to satisfaction with different areas of performance - reliability and consistency of water supply and water service; the taste, odor and appearance of the tap water; the health and safety of the tap water; customer service and the information provided by the water company; and the value of the tap water for the price customers pay. Taste and odor complaints have dropped markedly since Veolia Water Indianapolis began managing the system, reducing complaints from 501 in 2001 (prior to company management) to just 26 in 2004.
"Over the past two years, we've made significant strides in tackling taste and odor issues, improving infrastructure and system reliability that resulted in more efficient production and fewer service interruptions, and automating a variety of customer and operational services," explains Tim Hewitt, president of Veolia Water Indianapolis. "We're very proud of this team effort and the report clearly reflects the work of every employee who contributed."
The customer satisfaction survey is conducted each year by an independent firm specializing in utility customer satisfaction. It is part of a larger, on-going program to measure and improve customer awareness and satisfaction. The survey consists of telephone interviews completed with random and representative sample of 749 residential customers. The results from the total sample are accurate within +/- 3.6 percentage points.
Veolia Water Indianapolis manages all operations, maintenance and customer service facets of the city's waterworks system. With a service area that encompasses parts of nine Central Indiana counties, Indianapolis Water serves approximately 800,000 people and employs more than 400 people. It includes four surface water treatment facilities with daily water production averaging 138 million gallons per day (MGD) and peak demand capacity in excess of 200 MGD. The city acquired the waterworks system from NiSource and Veolia Water Indianapolis, a subsidiary of Veolia Water North America, began managing the system on May 1, 2002.