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Mining Customer Feedback through SWOT Analysis to Inform Strategic Planning

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Customers provide feedback to their water and wastewater service providers through a variety of direct and indirect channels. Customer survey feedback is a consistent, reliable source of rich information that, when proactively mined through an analysis such as SWOT (Strength-Weakness-Opportunity-Threats), can offer tremendous insight for strategic planning.

Integrating the voice of the customer into broader strategic initiatives as well as every day water and wastewater utility operations requires creativity, perseverance, and an unwavering commitment from management. The fact of the matter is the pursuit of a strong image and a meaningful customer experience is part art, part science.

American Water successfully leverages its customer feedback to:

• Pinpoint educational opportunities that address the informational needs of a diverse customer base and other stakeholders,

• Identify the causes of service successes and challenges, and

• Establish metrics to track performance over time and benchmark against local and national utilities.

This session will focus on the details of American Water's success with customer feedback by exploring:

1. The organizational philosophy that supports a continuous improvement culture;

2. The research design that yields meaningful, actionable customer insight at a local level;

3. The commitment to quality and open communication within operations to build organizational understanding and trust of customer feedback data ;

4. The integration of multiple sources of information that provides the fact-based support for marketing initiatives, process enhancements as well as the expansion of service offerings;

5. The team commitments that drive accountability and ownership for change initiatives; and

6. The ongoing monitoring of key performance indicators to gauge progress

Incorporating the voice of the customer into day-to-day operations is one of the ways utility managers can enhance stakeholder relationships, increase operating efficiency, optimize infrastructure investment, and leverage growth opportunities. This session will focus on practical applications of customer intelligence that influence longer-term sustainability and financial viability.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 January 2012

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