When it comes to our utility providers (Water, Gas, and Electricity) we Israelis, never miss a good opportunity to express our Customer DISsatisfaction. We easily complain about the high costs and uneven, poor customer service. There are those amongst us who subscribe to the view: “What do you expect? After all Israel is NOT a customer service oriented society!” Surely this view is justified as there are many well documented cases of bad customer service. This is a story about good customer service provided by the HaGihon – Jerusalem Water Company.
Recently, one of my neighbors noticed that water was gushing out of one of the water meters located on the side of our building. She wasn’t sure how to handle it, so she came up and let me know about. I went down, sorted out that it was my meter that had burst, shut off the water supply, and noted the meter reading. Then I came upstairs pulled out an old water bill and called up HaGihon’s customer service department. After taking about two minutes to get through their automated answering system, I waited another five minutes. I listened to their Hebrew language recorded looping message: “HaGihon, Jerusalem Water Company is happy to be of service. All of our representatives are currently busy with other service calls, your call has been queued and a service representative will answer shortly; HaGihon, Jerusalem Water Company is happy to…”…provide me with this virtual Chinese water torture. They are a company confident in their monopoly, comfortable with the knowledge that infomercials are not needed. “HaGihon, Jerusalem Water…”. Five minutes later, in Hebrew, I heard: “Shalom, my name is Liat, I am your HaGihon Jerusalem Water Company representative how may I assist you this evening?”
Being well schooled in speaking to Israeli service reps, I began by giving her my name and ID number, along with the appropriate billing information. I could hear Liat tapping away at her computer. Then she prompted “Thank you for that information. What is the reason for your call this evening?” I described the situation. Liat responded: “Are you sure that the water is coming out of the meter? Because if the water is coming out of the pipe which exits from the meter it is your responsibility, you will be charged for a service call, and then you will have to call your own plumber to carry out the repair. I want to save you that extra expense. Please be sure that your description is accurate.” I answered: “Thank you for considering that I am incapable of accurately describing the problem for your concern. Yes, yes, my description is accurate. How long before the service crew arrives?” Liat said: “We are having a busy evening, the on-site service crew should arrive at your address within three hours. They will call you when they are nearby, they will present their HaGihon ID and request your ID and billing information, please have that available for them.” Thanking her I rang off. I noted the time – 18:45 (6:45 p.m.) – the waiting had begin!
At 20:45 (8:45 p.m.), my telephone rang. A polite, gravelly, slightly tired, Arabic accented Hebrew speaker said: “This is the HaGihon crew, we are waiting for you downstairs.” Excellent, under three hours! I went downstairs and met two, meter ninety (over six feet) muscle-bound, men who greeted me with their company ID in hand. After the formality of exchanging information was over, one of them said: “We apologize for taking so long, we were breaking (Ramadan) fast so this shift started a bit late for us. Now where are the water meters?” After wishing them a “Ramadan Kareem, Ramadan Mubarak” (“Noble Ramadan, Blessed Ramadan”) and receiving the response “Kul ‘am wa enta bi-khair” (“May every year find you in good health!”) we walked to the side of the building and I showed them the offending meter. Musa smiled to himself as he opened the meter key and a gush of water flowed out. Looking at me he said: “You were right. Ok, just a minute.” At that point he radioed the shift manager on his phone, she listened to him and responded “Ok, we’ll send a repair crew out in the morning.”
I shook my head “Oh no, I really need water tonight.” Musa, held up his hand, I fell silent, he continued: “No, she may be American but she understands our desert. She knew to shut off the flow, instead of leaving it to waste water for two – three hours. We can’t leave a whole family without water, we need to fix this tonight.” The shift manager wasn’t happy but responded “Ok, I will send out Ely, he’ll be there in about an hour.” Winking at me, Musa, thanked her. Then he radioed Ely, gave him all of the details and asked if there was any way he could get to me sooner. Ely responded, I’ve just finished a job and I’m in the area, I’ll be there in 10 minutes. I thanked Musa and his silent partner, they wished me a good evening and left. Precisely 10 minutes later, Ely turned up. We went through the same identifying procedure as before and then he got to work. By 21:25 (9:25 p.m.), I was back in my flat with reestablished water service! I’m not sure what score to give to the staff at the phone-in service center, but I am sure that both crews who came out to my home get a perfect 10! Overall I am a highly satisfied HaGihon Jerusalem Water Company customer.
For more information about HaGihon Jerusalem’s Water Company please visit their English language site at:
Logo Image from home page of HaGihon Jerusalem’s Water Company