New Drive Thru Lane A Welcome Addition
In an effort to continually improve its customer service experience and to ensure the safety of the public during the pandemic, the HCWA has added an additional Drive-Thru Lane at the Authority Headquarters at 1695 Highway 20 West in McDonough. It has facilitated some interesting changes in consumer behavior when it comes to how HCWA customers prefer to do business with the utility.
According to Authority officials, prior to the pandemic the HCWA was averaging around 1,500 drive-thru customers per month. When the Authority closed its lobby in March of 2020, those averages jumped to about 1,750 Drive-Thru customers per month for about four months, and then returned to numbers closer to the previous average.
The current average of HCWA customers utilizing the HCWA Drive-Thru windows is approximately 1,450 per month. The wait time, however, has been reduced significantly since the self-service Kiosk that previously occupied Lane 2 of the HCWA Drive Thru was removed to make way for a second Drive-Thru Lane. The Authority completed the renovation and put the second Drive-Thru Lane into service in November of last year.
“COVID protocol increased our traffic in the Drive-Thru, so we are trying to ease the wait time and congestion with the addition of the second lane,” says Darlene Johnson, HCWA Customer Service Manager. “This should be of great benefit to our customers.”
HCWA Division Manager Allen Rape, who oversees the Authority’s Customer Service Department, says providing timely, efficient customer service is paramount and a top priority of the Authority and the HCWA staff. The Authority is continually looking for ways to improve customer service while protecting the safety and welfare of customers visiting the Headquarters.
“Closing the Headquarters Building for an extended period during the pandemic created a traffic jam in our Drive-Thru Lane, prior to our second lane coming open, which caused frustration for our customers and added stress for our customer service employees,” says Rape. “Installing the pneumatic tube system in the second lane was key in reducing our customers’ wait time and relieving the stress on our staff managing the window.”
Another trend Authority officials are tracking in the wake of the pandemic is the increase in the number of HCWA customers who are paying their bill online. The Authority has seen an increase of about 6% in online bill payments. That would explain the decrease in the average number of walk-in customers paying their bill at the Customer Service counter of the HCWA Headquarters. That number averaged about 900 per month prior to the pandemic, but it has been reduced to about a third of that since the home office reopened in July of last year.
In addition to paying their monthly bill at the HCWA Headquarters or online via the “Pay Your Bill” portal on the Authority’s website (www.hcwa.com), customers can pay by phone by calling 404-341-9689, or toll-free at 1-855-985-1136.
Finally, HCWA customers can pay their bill via direct draft, either through their financial institution or by setting up this service through the Authority. This auto bill pay option does not incur a fee, making HCWA direct pay both convenient and cost effective. In conclusion, all electronic commerce saves the Authority time and money, according to HCWA officials.
“In retrospect, one of the positive developments as a result of the pandemic is our effort to provide additional safe, convenient payment options for our customers, especially those who may be vulnerable or still uncomfortable doing business in public settings,” says Lindy Farmer, HCWA General Manager. “Our staff has been great at adapting to change and following the trends, so we can continue to provide the very best customer service possible.”
Caption for top photo:
Penny Taylor of McDonough utilizes the newly added second Drive Thru Lane at the HCWA Headquarters to pay her water bill – a trend that has reflected a change in how customers prefer to do business as a result of the pandemic.
Caption for bottom photo(s):
With the opening of a second Drive-Thru Lane at its McDonough Headquarters, the HCWA has seen a decrease in the foot traffic coming into its home office, as more customers opt to conduct business online and via the Drive-Thru, saving time and reducing costs for the Authority.
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