This first-time, national study was based on more than 20,000
responses, representing more than 83 million residential customers
of the 84 largest water utilities across the United States.
Residential customers were surveyed in March 2016 and had
experiences with their utility within the past six months. The
Overall Water Utility Satisfaction Index measures key performance
indicators in six areas: delivery (including quality), price,
billing and payment, conservation, communications, and customer
“We are honored to receive this award from J.D. Power because it’s a
direct reflection of what Illinois American Water’s customers
experience with us,” said Illinois American Water President Bruce
Hauk. “We know how critical water service is and how personal a
service we provide. We thank our customers for their vote of
confidence in our employees, who strive every day to provide safe
drinking water at a good value.”
This is the first year J.D. Power has conducted a customer
satisfaction study for water utilities. The study ranked U.S. water
utilities serving a population of at least 400,000 residents.
Utilities were categorized into the Northeast, Midwest, South, and
West geographic regions.
According to J.D. Power, the study found that when critical water
infrastructure is not maintained, it can cause residential delivery
interruptions or create water quality problems such as bad taste and
bad smell, the two issues that impact satisfaction the most. The
American Society of Civil Engineers says that an estimated $1
trillion in capital spending will be needed across the nation over
the next 25 years to replace thousands of miles of pipe, upgrade
treatment plants and comply with stricter water quality standards.
Illinois American Water invests approximately $70 - $100 million a
year on average to ensure high-quality, reliable water and/or
wastewater service. According to Hauk, approximately $130 million
will be invested across the state in 2016. He said, “The communities
we serve rely on us to not only provide water service that supports
public health, fire protection and the local economy, but to make
needed investment to ensure reliable service today and in the
According to J.D. Power’s press release on the study, “Delivering
water that is safe to use and drink is the top priority for water
utilities. However, many utilities are facing the decay of
century-old infrastructures with insufficient funds necessary to
make improvements. When facing the need for multi-billion dollar
investments, it’s no longer good enough to just focus on the water
system; it is imperative that water utilities also focus on
understanding their customers, who can often be their most effective
advocates when it comes to building up support for necessary
Following are additional findings of the J.D. Power study.
- Price by Region:
One-fourth (25%) of customers are not aware of the cost of
their monthly water utility service. The customer-reported
average monthly cost by region is $79—West; $75—Northeast;
$63—South; and $60—Midwest.
- E-Bill Satisfaction Higher than Paper Bill:
Billing and payment satisfaction among the 31% of customers who
receive their bill electronically is much higher than among
those who receive a paper bill (792 vs. 746, respectively).
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- Communication Recall Builds Satisfying Relationships:
Water utilities that communicate with their customers are
more likely to build a satisfying customer relationship. Overall
satisfaction is higher when a customer recalls a communication
in the last 6 months from their water utility than when they
don’t recall a communication (737 vs. 675, respectively).
- Awareness of Infrastructure Investment Increases
Satisfaction: When customers are aware of their utility’s
efforts to improve or replace the old infrastructure,
conservation satisfaction is 734, compared with 650 when they
are not aware. The same holds true when customers are familiar
with their utility’s efforts to improve water quality (749 vs.
- Answering Customers’ Questions on First Contact:
One key to achieving high customer service satisfaction is
answering a customer’s question the first time they make
contact, compared with making two or more contacts. Among those
contacting by phone, satisfaction is 134 points higher when the
customer’s question is answered on the first contact, compared
to when two or more calls are required for an answer (831 vs.
697, respectively). Similarly, when contacts are made online,
satisfaction is 91 points higher when questions are answered on
the first contact, compared to when two or more contacts are
required (827 vs. 736, respectively).
For information about the J.D. Power 2016 Water Utility
Residential Customer Satisfaction StudySM visit
For more information about Illinois American Water visit
About Illinois American Water
Illinois American Water, a subsidiary of American Water (NYSE:
AWK), is the largest investor-owned water utility in the state,
providing high-quality and reliable water and/or wastewater
services to approximately 1.2 million people. American Water
also operates a customer service center in Alton and a quality
control and research laboratory in Belleville.
American Water is the largest and most geographically diverse
publicly traded U.S. water and wastewater utility company.
Marking its 130th anniversary this year, the company employs
6,700 dedicated professionals who provide regulated and
market-based drinking water, wastewater and other related
services to an estimated 15 million people in 47 states and
Ontario, Canada. More information can be found by visiting
[Karen Cotton, Illinois American