Communications Manager Donna Alston Explores the Relationship Between Social Media and the Customer Experience

Hey! Who Opened That Door?

I recently had the privilege to be part of a panel of communications professionals who were charged with dropping knowledge about social media and the customer experience on a group of students studying communications at my alma mater, Temple University. My first thought was that because the audience was primarily millennials, that they should likely be dropping social media knowledge on me.

After I pulled myself together, I remembered that the topic was really about the customer experience and how it has been impacted by social media. Feeling a bit more confident, I began to think about just that. One of the most significant impacts of social media is that it has made everything public. No more private showing or sharing of anything that has been documented in any way, for anyone, anymore—and probably never again. Terms like, “behind closed doors” and “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” are now officially anachronisms.

But what has this truth meant for the customer experience? On the business/service provider side of that experience, it means that customer service is no longer solely seated in the “customer service department” because now, the entire world has a bird’s-eye view of that customer experience. What used to take place between one customer and one service representative via a secure landline is now on the internet for everyone to see. Many customers are less likely to use landlines (which are nearly anachronisms) to call a service provider, than they are to use cell phones to Tweet their issues, airing them on companies’ social media sites—which could easily be the most massive of all mass media.

This thought alone can be daunting, particularly when you consider that most customers only connect with customer service when there is a problem. So how are businesses to handle this still-rather-new, very public customer experience?

When I think about the answer, I’m reminded of my childhood and my parents in particular, who taught me to always be on my best behavior. And make no mistake about it, there was no compromise on that mandate when in public. I’d better not embarrass them when we were in public—because my behavior was a direct reflection of their parenting skills and an implication of what took place in our home.

In much the same fashion, companies should always have their best face forward when managing customer issues on social media (and elsewhere). When they don’t, just like with the misbehaved child, they leave the public wondering what’s going on at home. Who is minding that store?

Customer issues raised on social media should be handled with the same promptness, courtesy, concern, and attention we would provide to our most loved family member. Their handling should reflect the company’s brand and values, and embody its mission, because just like the child, it provides an indication of what’s going on inside the business and what is taking place with their operations.

There is already an inherent relationship between customer service and operations, which is often the primary source of information needed to reply to customer queries. However, customer service professionals charged with managing the social customer experience would be greatly served by consulting their company’s communications professionals. Social “media” has created a nexus where customer service and communications meet. I suggest that the best social customer experience is one that is informed by customer service and communications professionals. The icing on the cake comes when both of these groups have complete and consistent access to their peers in operations who are keeping the business running.

Operations professionals ensure that the information needed to provide the right answers and appropriate solutions to customers is made available to the customer service team. They should also provide notice of potential issues in a timely fashion so that customer service can proactively alert customers about potential problems when appropriate. These decisions should be made with input from the communications team. Customer service professionals ensure that responses are delivered promptly and contain information that will actually resolve the issues, and that proactive messages are delivered when needed. Communications professionals ensure that all messages are consistent with the company’s brand, values and mission.

When the customer service/communications nexus is synced and fed consistent and comprehensive information from operations, it doesn’t matter that the door is open and your company’s customer experience is taking place in public. Why? Because now, like that well-behaved child, your company is on its best behavior, leaving little or no room for anyone to wonder what’s going on at home or who is minding that store.

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12 Days of Water

It’s the holiday season and we’re in an extra festive mood. That’s why we decided to take the classic 12 Days of Christmas song and add our own little twist.

 

On the twelfth day of Christmas, Aqua gave to me…

Twelve clean loads of dishes

Eleven pipes a pumping

Ten taps a turning

Nine water recipes

Eight states of service

Seven WaterSmart Tips

In addition to providing water services, we offer handy tips to keep your house flowing. Feel free to check them out at any time!

Six tubs a teeming

Five new blog posts!

Four sparkling sinks

Three volunteers

At Aqua, we value the communities that we service. That’s why we’re proud to share our volunteering initiatives with you. Between planting trees, helping with community programs or working with high schools, we are always happy to give back.

Two new hashtags

Keep up-to-date with all things Aqua and water in the world! Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to stay in the loop. #12DaysofWater #HappyWaterDays

And a happy home filled with clean water for your tree!



Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from all of us here at Aqua America. For any comments, questions, or concerns please reach out to us at 877.987.2782 or visit us at AquaAmerica.com.

 

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Five Tips for Keeping Your Christmas Tree Fresh

 

Christmas is right around the corner and you may be getting ready to put up the perfect Christmas tree in your home, if you haven’t already. While taking care of a Christmas tree seems as though it should be a fairly simple task, keeping a tree hydrated and fresh through the holidays can become a challenge. That’s why we at Aqua are here to dispel a few Christmas tree hydration myths and answer your frequently asked questions.

 

Q: Does my tree still need to be stored in water if I do not plan on installing it right away?

A: Absolutely! Whether or not you plan on putting your tree up immediately, a freshly-cut Christmas tree should be placed into a bucket of water as soon as possible. If the tree will not be installed until the following day immediately, make an effort to keep it stored in a cool, dry place.

Q: Will trimming down the bark around the base of my tree aid in water uptake?

A: Trimming the bark of a Christmas tree does not assist in water absorption. In fact, it may even be detrimental to the tree’s health. The bulk of a Christmas tree’s water uptake is done through its bark so shaving this precious material away is absolutely not recommended.

Q: How do I know exactly how much water my tree needs to stay fresh?
A: As a general rule, tree stands should provide one quart of water per inch of stem diameter. Make sure to supply a new tree with water on a daily basis, since freshly cut Christmas trees absorb the most water within their first week of installation. Keeping your tree properly hydrated will increase its longevity and help it stay looking lush.


Q: What is the proper cutting technique for trunk trimming? Are angular cuts more effective?

A: Contrary to popular belief, tactics such as making angular cuts or drilling holes into the trunk of a Christmas tree will not have any beneficial influence on water absorption. The most effective technique for proper water uptake is a traditional, straight cut through a tree’s stem, like slicing off a nice chunk of provolone cheese.

Q: How many inches should be trimmed from the stem of my tree to keep it healthy?

A: We recommend that ¼ to ½ of an inch be trimmed from the tree’s stem to prevent sapping, which may drastically disrupt water absorption. However, these numbers do not take into account trimming for ceiling space. At the end of the day, any cut will suffice as long as it is at least ¼ of an inch thick.

With proper care, a Christmas tree can stay fresh for up to four weeks. Keep the above hydration tips and tricks in mind during your Christmas tree installation and watering processes this holiday season to get the most life and beauty out of your tree.

 

Happy Holidays from all of us at Aqua!

 

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Top 5 Spots for a Dreamy Water-cation

The nip seems to be back in the air, which can only mean one thing – winter is officially here. The cold months that are about to come can seem pretty daunting. Just thinking about shoveling snow is sending us shivers.

That being said, it’s no surprise that some warm vacation spots are on our minds. If we could, we would visit all of the amazing, water-filled places below. Take a look at our dream list and get ready to plan your own getaway.

 

1. Trevi Fountain (Rome, Italy)

If this isn’t at the top of your bucket list, you should move it there. Trevi Fountain is the epitome of amazing water features. Not only is it beautifully designed and incredible to look at, but it’s also located in one of the most romantic cities in the world.

This vacation spot is a must see! 

 

2. Great Wolf Lodge (United States)

Don’t feel like flying all the way to Italy for your next vacation? Then you should definitely check out Great Wolf Lodge. With 13 different locations around the U.S., you’re guaranteed to find some fun.

So what makes this hotel special? At each location guests will find an entire waterpark, indoors. Yep, that’s right: water slides, a lazy river and more all exist inside the resort.

 

3. Lover's Cove (Avalon, California)

Crystal clear water, tons of ocean wildlife and an amazing location – Lover’s Cove is certainly a snorkeling paradise. Located in Southern California, this marine sanctuary is protected by the state and pollution free.

Snorkel or scuba dive, go with your significant other or bring the family along. Whatever you choose to do, we can promise you’ll have an amazing time.

 

4. Hanakapi`ai Falls (Kauai, Hawaii)

This gorgeous waterfall is located in scenic and sunny Hawaii. With more popular destination spots like Honolulu, the island of Kauai is often overlooked. That’s what we think makes Hanakapi`ai Falls an incredible vacation.

 

5. Cayman Islands

Are you ready for the ultimate getaway? Saying the stunning Cayman Islands are picturesque is an understatement.

Warm waters, bright beaches and striking scenery are just a few of the many things this island holds in store for you.

 

Now that you’re inspired, it’s time to book your trip! Even if you don’t end up flying across the ocean, we hope that you have a wonderful, warm, vacation.

 

 

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5 Ways to Conserve Water on Thanksgiving

The holidays are here! First up, Thanksgiving.

We’ve been on a mission to make to make this year’s festivities the best yet. That’s why we compiled our most helpful tips on how to conserve water before, during and after your meal.

Rinse and repeat

Cooking a large portion of vegetables or potatoes? Instead of running them under the sink, try filling a large bowl with water and using it to rinse your food. The best part? When you’re done with the dirty water you can use it to water your plants! (The same trick can also be used for washing your dishes after the meal.)

Defrost like a boss

We don’t have to remind you to defrost your turkey before the big day. The USDA says that you’ll need 1-3 days for about 4-12 lbs. of turkey.

Whatever you do, avoid using the cold water method. If you’re really in a time crunch, follow the USDA’s instructions for using the microwave.

 Full steam ahead

If you’ve got all your burners on full blast and still need to steam something, place a strainer over one of your pots. This way you can save time, space and water! Done boiling? You can use the leftover water for a soup base.

Watering can, or can’t?

Waiting for the faucet to change temperature? Place a watering can over the drain to catch any of the excess water. This way, you can water your plants or refill the dog’s water bowl without wasting a drop!

Wasting away

The global average water footprint of chicken meat is 4330 liter/kg. Imagine what a larger bird like a turkey consumes. Don’t let all of the water that went into producing your turkey go to waste.

If you don’t have any room in your fridge (or stomach) for leftovers, send your guests home with doggy bags. You can also swing by your local soup kitchen or food shelter and donate what you have left – especially if you have any unopened boxes or cans you didn’t use.

 

Whether you’re cooking for a small group or the entire extended family, these conservation tips are sure to keep your household happy for the holidays.

 

 

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