It seems like tech continues to outsmart us. We wear our phones on our wrists, give verbal commands to our home appliances, and even buy umbrellas that send weather notifications to our phones. In a time where we are tethered to our tech, it can feel impossible to perform our day-to-day duties without the help of our phones and other technologies.
With the steady evolution of “smart” objects and the ever-expanding amount of data at our fingertips, people understandably feel overwhelmed by so much information. This exhaustion from being constantly connected to technology is known as “tech fatigue.”
It’s easy for water industry professionals to recognize the value of many of the latest and greatest advances in water tech, like Advanced Meter Infrastructure (AMI), meter data management (MDM) software, and customer portals. But when the general public is frequently introduced to new technologies and information, how can the water industry continue to engage and excite our customers who are feeling the effects of tech fatigue?
- Make information easily accessible. Give customers 24/7 access to their data. Consider launching a comprehensive customer portal that is a one-stop-shop for all things water. Allow customers to access bills and water use reports, report an issue and contact customer service through one online tool.
- Offer options. Not everyone likes paying their bills online or wants to receive emails from their utilities. Believe it or not, some people don’t even have an email address. Keep those “old school” options easy for customers to choose and use.
- Communicate with your customers, but don’t overwhelm them with TMI (too much information). The average American receives more than 40 push notifications on their phone every day. Keep communications with customers clear and concise, and don’t overload them with a steady stream of emails, mailers, and social media blasts.
- Make customer service communications quick and easy. Give customers multiple ways to contact you, and respond promptly. The public has grown accustomed to quick responses from online businesses and other retailers, and they hold their utilities to those same standards.
- Engage with customers face-to-face. Technology makes it easier for customers to connect with their utilities, but don’t hide behind your computer screen. Personal interactions can be powerful. In-person conversations help cut down on miscommunication or misinterpretation that sometimes occurs via online interactions.
Ways to Combat Tech Fatigue
Utility directors and other water industry professionals aren’t immune to the challenges of tech fatigue. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by tech, try treating yourself to a mini digital detox. Follow these simple steps to recharge your energy:
- Turn off your phone. Sometimes turning your phone on silent or enabling the “do not disturb” feature isn’t enough to give us a break from the digital world. Turn off your phone, and put it out of sight. If shutting your phone in a drawer isn’t enough to ease your temptations, have a friend hang onto it for you.
- Go outside. Take a walk around the block or spend a few minutes sitting on your favorite park bench. Immersing yourself in an outdoor setting can improve your mood and energy level, as well as reduce your stress hormones, blood pressure, and muscle tension. Spend a few minutes in nature to reconnect with yourself.
- Drink water! We all know that water is vital for human survival, but did you know that drinking water can help you feel less stressed? Dehydration can sap your energy levels and increase cortisol levels, making you feel more stressed. Be sure to stay hydrated.
Fatigue from information overload is a common struggle, but communicating the value of water with our customers is a vital part of providing water to our community, and sometimes the easiest way to do so is through technology. Keep this in mind as you develop communications strategies for your utility, and consider taking real steps to ease your customers’ tech fatigue. They just might thank you for it.