Groundbreaking survey on customer emotions to reveal how clean water agencies can forge strong relationships with the community


How can clean water agencies leverage emotional motivators to forge long-term sustainable relationships with their customers?

That’s the question driving the project, Forging Powerful and Sustainable Relationships Between Clean Water Agencies and the Community, the latest research by KKS Advisors, funded by the Water Research Foundation (WRF). To help answer this question, KKS Advisors have launched a customer survey that focuses for the first time on understanding people’s emotional connections to water and the local clean water agency that is responsible for treating and managing wastewater. Over the next few months, customers across the United States and Canada will be telling us what truly resonates with their values. The findings will offer unique insights for clean water agencies that wish to create long-term relationships with their customers based on trust.   

Although the study of emotions and how they drive behaviour is an established concept in the fields of psychology, behavioural sciences, and marketing, it has rarely been applied in the realm of customer engagement, and never explicitly to the water utility sector. The project will provide much-needed insights for clean water agencies, which until now have suffered from a lack of industry-specific information on which communication techniques work best to foster meaningful connections with consumers.

To inform the design of the unique customer survey, KKS Advisors conducted an extensive review of best practices, held interviews with leading clean water agencies recognized for their community engagement efforts, and consulted global marketing and branding experts. Once the customer survey is complete, the research results will be analysed to deliver a practical and actionable toolkit for clean water agencies, outlining the action steps they can take to move to the next level of customer engagement. The toolkit and recommendations will help utilities to apply an emotion-based approach to their engagement strategies, while maintaining an appreciation of their organizational and geographical context. The toolkit will also include advice on how to monitor and evaluate progress against intended outcomes.

The Principal Investigator for this project is Sakis Kotsantonis, Managing Partner of KKS Advisors. He said: “This project is timely given the continued and growing challenges that clean water agencies face, such as increased regulations, cost pressures and low public awareness on water scarcity. We are delighted to be working on a project that brings exciting new insights from a customer emotions perspective, that really has the power to transform the industry.”