Friday, May 1, 2015

Social Media, a Weapon of Success at National Water and Sewerage Corporation

Century International Quality Award for Excellence, Customer Care, and Leadership & Commitment to the Environment
From 27 towns in 2013, the National Water and Sewerage Corporation has covered 70 towns in the last 18 months bringing the total number of towns covered with safe clean piped water to 97 towns. In the last 2 years the organization has  attained massive success as far as its operations are concerned. The company’s efficient usage of ICT leaves you wondering whether it’s a private company but no, the company is a government owned body that has given the service sector in Uganda enormous successful stories in regards to smooth communications, water crisis management and very awesome customer care that their team offers 24 hours. The company created the National water App which has simplified life for their clients. They also came up with an internal billing system that is fully integrated with the Mobile Money Payment systems which has seen the company save huge amounts of money. Their website is a self-service page as you can confirm by visiting http://www.nwsc.co.ug


National Water and Sewerage Corporation is headed by Dr. Eng. Silver Mugisha under whose leadership this organization has achieved great awards and various recognitions for its relentless efforts by both local associations and International bodies. Dr. Silver has been very influential in teaching society the benefits of keeping the environment so as to maintain the safe and clean water. This is clearly evidenced from his attendance to School water clubs where students are taught the benefits of proper usage of water. His belief in a complete chain of efficient communication has seen him own a personal twitter handle @NWSCMD that he manages himself which has seen many clients communicate to him directly. His presence on twitter has fully enabled the team to always keep track of the events as they unfold. It’s no surprise that the Europe Business Assembly (EBA) recognized his efforts and rewarded him during the Achievements Forum 2015 in London. Following his tweets simply shows you how passionate he is about providing answers to customer complaints that keep coming in.
Best regional enterprise of the year at the Europe Business Assembly (EBA) awards.
Dr. Silver’s arrival at the company saw him lay strong support to the Public Relations and communications department. The company was able to selectively improvise communication channels that would best be used to deliver information accordingly. The created client segments fully enables the company to clearly target their customers whom specific communication is intended to reach.
After following the company activities for about two and half years, Mind Leaders Uganda would not hesitate reaching out to this very hospitable team to find out more on what makes them extra ordinary in this field of customer care and efficient crisis management. Due to my specific interests on my visit to their offices, the Public Relations and Communications department was my intended location. It’s a common belief in society that individual love to see things physically. I have looked at hundreds of company websites and there are very few websites that provide as much data as that of National Water and Sewerage Corporation website does. There on their 5 year Strategic Plan is clearly listed in the resources. The websites interface is user friendly with almost all the information available without necessarily calling them on their three provided call free numbers.
Global Award for Perfection, Quality and Ideal Performance in Berlin.
On my visit, I actually looked forward to finding out the efforts that are behind the continuously growing success in efficient communication and Crisis management. Here are the lessons that I recommend both private and Public service providers can adopt to strengthen their communication and customer engagement;
 
1.       Fully integrate the communication and Public Relations strategy into the overall company strategy. This will ensure quality service provision from all departments because the departmental strategy is in line with the Entire Company strategies. Here the company fully implements its Information Communication Technology tools to deliver efficiently.
Best Customer Care SMA 2015
2.       Minimize the communication gap between the Company and Clients as much as possible. This creates stake holder delight through communications that makes them feel closer to the company. Closing the communications gap also makes customers feel the care that the company offers them due to the fact that consistent information about the company operations is always relayed out to them.
3.       Attend regional events and community organizations. Its normal business for the National Water staff to always set up a help desk at markets and churches to fully handle customer issues. This vividly makes the community to feel involved and respected.
4.       Providing a good working environment that makes work fun. National water empowers their staff through frequent trainings that not only make working efficient but also add value to their employees.
5.       Balance up experienced employees with the Young Dynamic employees who have a wider hands on experience with the trending technology and new and simpler styles of getting the job done.
6.       Continuous improvement in High Quality Service Delivery through adopting the culture of Zero Defects. This strongly supports all activities of the company to ensure that the service provided is always the top they can offer.
7.       Encourage all your employees to embrace social mediaso as to be able to provide quick and timely responses to clients whenever communication is needed. NWSC hires highly professional communications managers who ensure proper and sufficient information delivery to the clients.
8.       In house control of social media. The company fully controls all their communication channels in house without hiring other firms to communicate. This enables them to effectively relay information as events unfold.  Internal staff social media groups also hastens the speed at which all staff is up to date with what’s happening within their operations.
9.       Crisis is normal in organization operations. The company accepts the fact when a crisis happens and prepares the team ready to provide appropriate answers to customers. They ensure proper flow of communication to clients without delay. Avoiding crisis can easily result into mayhem and spread of wrong information in the public, the reason why the company should always spear head the crisis management.
10.    Take every complaint whether small or big seriously. People always look for information and feedback from the company. At National Water they know that Customer’s happiness is key.

After picking the above lessons, I further inquired on the challenges that National Water and Sewerage Corporation faces while carrying out its planned activities. One thing is always true that organizations always go through tough times but only those that tough and agile are able to survive. The following are the challenges that National Water faces;
1.       Water theft
The perception of water being costly due to the fact that many private operators who sell water at a relatively higher cost than the recommended pricing per 20 liters. It’s also true that some individuals intentionally get involved in water theft to avoid paying the bills.
2.       Unfavorable Terrain of some regions makes distribution of water very expensive. For instance the hilly places require heavy investments in boosters (water pumps) to run 24 hours. However this has not stopped National Water from ensuring that the Central District is 100% covered.
3.       Delayed utility bills payment by clients also affects the implementation of some of the planned activities. The company has experienced a great change in early payment of water bills though they are still encouraging all water users to always clear their due bills to avoid inconveniences but also to efficiently serve their clients.
 
4.       Delays in extension of water pipes in some regions as some land owners do not want these water lines to go through their land. However the Public Relations Manager at national water fully explained how land appreciates in value as a result of having a water line go through it.
The existence of the above challenges have not hindered the organization from laying very incredible future plans that will see all Ugandans access safe and clean water. In their 5 year strategic plan ( 2013 – 2018) which is available on their website, the organization has embarked on both small and big projects to improve on their operations and service delivery. Among the many future plans where many of these are work in progress include;
1.       Construction of the New Bugolobi Treatment Plant. The new plant is expected to greatly boost the operations of National water within Kampala and its neighbors. Production of Electricity from this plant is also another beautiful expectation that will be achieved once construction is done. The plant is estimated to produce about One Megawatt (1 MW) of Power that will aid in the operations of the company. This new plant will have an inlet that brings sewerage from Nakivubo Channel which has always been a challenge to the city during rainy seasons.
2.       The company also plans to set up Packaged Sewerage Treatment Plants in Masaka, Kabale and many other regions with time.
3.       Improvement of Lagoons previously owned privately but have been handed over to National Water. One of the lagoons being the located in Kyabongo on Mukono – Jinja road.
4.       Construction of a Sewerage pre-treatment plant in Kinawataka , Nakawa Division.
5.       Works on treatment plants in Lubigi and Nalukolongo is ongoing.
Lubigi Treatment Plant
6.       Continuous partnerships with other companies around the world for example in Bangladesh and Trinidad Tobago. These partnerships continuously help the company to improve in their service delivery. 
   
7.       Continuous company –community meetings through the Water Barazas where the clients in different selected regions get to face the company’s top management to cross examine their achievemnts as laid down in their plans but also to hear from the public. During these meetings top company leadership gets to answer the public’s questions during the question answer sessions.
In Conclusion
I would like to extend my sincere thanks to the entire management and team of National Water and Sewerage Corporation for their information transparency through consistent and effective communication. Your efforts in timely and active resolving of the water crisis events is highly appreciated. I cannot forget the inclusion of ICT in all your daily operations that have seen the company efficiently communicate to its clients. However we are looking forward to the completion of the works in progress as laid down in your 2013-2018 strategic plan.
By,
Mwebya Fred

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