The Portland Metro Area has become well known for quite a few things—breweries, food carts, outdoor activities and, for at least nine months of the year, rain. In this type of climate, with so much precipitation, how do we have engaging conversations about water conservation and efficiency? It is much easier that it may seem, as long as you keep the basics in mind. One of the most important things to remember: know your audience.
Are they looking for praise because they let their lawn go brown in the summer? Do they want to redo their landscape and are asking for plant choices and irrigation advice? Are they fresh out of college and need basic advice about indoor conservation? Customize the conversations to your audience’s level of understanding. Nothing will lose someone’s interest faster than talking above, or below, their level. Once their attention is lost, that passion they had when they first contacted you is dulled, or completely forgotten.
It is also possible to provide too much information. Meeting someone who is passionate about starting a new garden or interested in the latest irrigation technology is exciting. However, overwhelming them right from the start is not the best way to help them out. Instead, provide starter information and then call back in a week or two to see how they are doing. You can then either help them with any roadblocks they encounter or take them to the next step.
These are elementary customer service concepts, but sometimes it is nice to be reminded of the basics. While we may know a plethora of conservation information, we need to make sure we speak to our customers on their level, and do not overwhelm them with more information than they can adsorb.
Jennifer Joe currently works for the City of Tigard as the Water Conservation and Water Quality Program Coordinator. She has a BA in Environmental Studies from California State East Bay, a MPA from Portland State University, and is the proud mother of three….cats.