PUD to survey Internet and cable TV use
At least 400 Truckee residents will get a phone call in the next few weeks and will be asked to answer a variety of questions concerning Internet use, cable television services, and if customers would be more likely to switch do other services if the options were there.
As Truckee-Donner Public Utility District moves forward in its plans to enter into the telecommunications business and offer cable and Internet services, it is looking to the community for feedback.
“The district believes that it is very important that its customers have an opportunity to share their views on the types of telecommunications services they desire,” TDPUD telecommunications director Alan Harry. “For me personally, it has always been my belief that if you consider the needs and wants of your potential customers that you will always succeed, whereas without that information the service that you provide may not meet the success that you had anticipated.”
At last week’s PUD meeting, board members unanimously voted to allow staff to hire Sacramento-based Sierra Market Research (SMR) to conduct a local survey to receive insight from district customers. The surveyors will ask customers about their current use of Internet and cable or satellite television services, their satisfaction with current Internet and cable television providers and their potential to switch to similar competing services if provided by the PUD.
“Before we add a new service we really need to ask the community what they think the district should do,” TDPUD board member Pat Sutton said. “I have always believed the government should keep the citizenry informed and should consult with them.”
Sutton suggested the idea of conducting a survey within the community at an earlier board meeting, to be certain the district had community support before moving forward with the telecommunications plan.
“If you ask the customer what it is they would like to receive from you, then you will succeed because they have been a part of the process,” Harry said. “It is another way of providing customer service.”
According to staff reports, SMR will conduct a telephone survey among a minimum of 400 residents within the Truckee market, who will be interviewed for no longer than five minutes. Issues to be addressed include:
– Subscription levels of Internet, cable TV and satellite TV services
– How Internet services are used
– Satisfaction levels with current providers (quality, reliability, cost, etc.)
– Switching intent if options were available
– Switching intent if option were TDPUD
– Full-time or part-time residency
– Other demographics
But before Truckee residents begin getting calls, the surveyors will conduct in-depth interviews with part-time residents. They will look for insights regarding how part-time residents fulfill communications needs during their stays in Truckee. A minimum of 15 in-depth phone interviews among individuals or business owners who maintain a residence in the Truckee area, but consider themselves full-time residents of another area will be conducted.
The intent is to determine satisfaction levels with available Internet service providers and cable companies in the area and to test the interest in having the district enter the telecommunications market. The district will target part-time residents who make at least six trips to their Truckee residences each year, or who stay for two or more months per year in the area. After they evaluate these results, surveyors will refine their questions for the larger survey directed at reaching full-time Truckee residents, Harry said.
Furthermore, a consultant will develop a proposal determining current customer satisfaction levels and their interest in having the district enter the telecommunication market, and will make a suggestion as to how the district should proceed.
“I would like to get a real strong sense of what people want,” he said.
The total survey will cost approximately $15,000 and take six weeks to complete. The in-depth interviews were scheduled to begin this week.
“I think it’s a worthy investment of money,” Sutton said. “That way we will have a real clear picture of what the community wants. I’m hopeful it will help.”
Interviewees were selected from the district’s current database in a random statistical sample, Harry said.
“Once all of the information is gathered, they (SMR) will come to us and we will go back to the board,” he said. “I believe we will see information that will substantiate the thoughts we have had all along – that this is a viable plan that the community wants. “
District staff began meeting with an SMR consultant this week.
“My job is to keep the momentum going,” Harry said.
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