It’s February–the month of love. While Valentine’s Day may be behind us, love is still in the air. Our love story begins just beneath the surface, in your meter box. With a name like Master Meter, Inc. it’s no surprise that we love meters. There are several Master Meter products vying for attention, but the water meter was our ‘first love’.
Our love story began over 30 years ago when President Jerry Potter partnered a small meter repair company with the innovative water technologies coming out of Israel. Master Meter was born and continues to be a water technology leader focused on tomorrow’s innovations today. However, in order to remain a leader, we have to stay connected to our customers. Our business model is centered on strong relationships with the people in the field interacting with our products every day. We listen to their challenges to ensure our products are meeting the true challenges in the field.
We spoke with one of our customers to ask them about some of their biggest takeaways as they fully implement their AMI program. Sherry Harden is the Accountability Manager for Mansfield Water Utilities in Mansfield, Texas. Sherry stressed the importance of communication throughout the entire implementation phase.
“Communication is everything to us,” explains Sherry. “Switching from manual read to AMI has affected the entire division.” Mansfield is installing the last phase of new meters in-house with existing staff during regular business hours. This ensures a level of quality control not always attainable through outsourcing but requires strategic logistics behind the scenes. The meter transition is important but can’t interfere with the daily routine maintenance and repair needs of the city.
“It’s taken a great deal of teamwork and communication to make this a smooth transition,” Harden said. Harden stressed the importance of communication across all touch points, both internal and external, including communication between employees and residents. Human error is inevitable, however the best way to handle conflicts is to stay calm.
“Our rule of thumb is to listen to the customer first, offer a bit of research then actually call them back,” said Harden. This commitment to following through has build trust between the division and the customers. Across the board, we’ve heard from customers that being ahead of the curve and proactively communicating the change-out program reduces conflict when the work begins.
Harden also suggests working across departments to reduce confusion and duplicity. “We do everything we can to ensure our utility billing staff are aware of what we are doing in the field,” explains Harden. “This not only allows them to better serve the customer when they call in but reduces the doubling of work effort when we have to go back and investigate a job we finished because a customer called in and utility billing knew nothing about it. The more information we provide utility billing, the better prepared they are to answer questions without having to send it over to us.”
Finally, Harden touched on utilizing the tools available to you. “Don’t be afraid to or forget to use the technical support from your manufacturer or vendor,” said Harden. “They know the ins-and-outs of every product, every device and the software. Save time on your end by letting them troubleshoot an issue or pull data and create the reports you need to make your job easier.”
Whether you have made the switch to AMI, are currently in an AMI pilot study, or just considering a future change-out program, our experts in the field have expressed the need for a comprehensive and proactive communication strategy. Technology and change both require a hefty dose of patience and planning. At Master Meter, we’re committed to being a resource for our customers and our industry to make the transition as painless as possible.