Laurel, Md. – May 10, 2022 – During a time of unprecedented delinquent accounts, economic uncertainty and high-call volumes caused by COVID-19, WSSC Water ranks number three (tied with Pennsylvania American Water) among large water utilities in the Northeast in J.D. Power’s 2022 Water Residential Customer Satisfaction Study.
In its seventh year, the study scored WSSC Water 744 (on a 1,000-point scale), ranking it seven points higher than the average score of 737 for the Northeast large utility category. Since 2017, WSSC Water has steadily improved in the study. The utility was ranked #11 overall in 2017 with a score of 692.
“Despite the extraordinary circumstances brought on by this global pandemic, our ranking in this survey reflects our commitment to better serving our customers,” said WSSC Water General Manager and CEO Carla A. Reid. “While we are pleased with these results, we know we can do better and continue to take concrete steps to improve customer satisfaction.”
J.D. Power’s study measures satisfaction among residential customers of 90 water utilities with at least 400,000 customers. Overall satisfaction is measured by six factors (listed in order of importance):
- Quality & Reliability
- Billing & Payment
- Customer Service
At the height of COVID-19, one in five WSSC Water customers were behind on their bills. That equates to more than 90,000 past-due accounts. Call wait times climbed to 29 minutes in September 2021 when residential water service turnoffs resumed, as customers flooded WSSC Water’s call center to set up a payment plan to avoid a turnoff. The global pandemic also impacts WSSC Water’s ability to attract and retain customer service agents - similar to the workforce challenges faced by many other sectors. WSSC Water is actively addressing this situation by hiring more call center staff, shifting additional staff from other areas to answer phones and implementing a call-back feature. These steps are working as the average wait time has decreased from 29 minutes in September 2021 to 11 minutes in April 2022.
As these financially challenging times continue, WSSC Water is Here to Help with enhanced financial assistance programs to make customers’ water and sewer bills more affordable. Additionally, WSSC Water’s Fiscal Year 2023 budget includes $3.5 million – a $200,000 increase from the current budget – to enhance financial assistance programs. Financially vulnerable customers can visit wsscwater.com/assistance to learn about county, state and local resources.