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Marketing & Competing

Fortnightly Magazine - October 15 1996

program to demonstrate new technologies at industrial customer facilities. This effort can forge bonds leading to new business and take some of the risk out of developing technologies only in house.

c) Give up on natural gas vehicles and focus on one or two new applications (em such as Connecticut Natural Gas's co-firing process, which burns gas with coal to lower emissions at utility plants and industrial boilers while increasing their efficiency.

#8 (em Public Relations

As CEO you need to increase your presence in customer circles. And it wouldn't hurt for the industry to better understand the niche that Total Gas intends to fill and the value of teaming with your company. What communications can have an impact this year?

a) Reach out to national business publications with a progressive message about integrated energy solutions.

b) Seek invitations to speaking forums that will put you in front of targeted market segments.

c) Fine-tune presentations to financial analysts to make sure they fully grasp how you're connecting with customers.

#9 (em Reputation

As part of your effort to improve the company's image with customers, Total Gas is reengineering its basic approach to customer service. What core approach will be most effective in building a customer-service reputation that's second to none, while giving you the most bang for your buck?

a) Abandon the old residential, commercial, and industrial customer categories. Instead, create new, more specialized customer segments that enable you to better focus your products and services.

b) Set satisfaction targets for each customer segment, recognizing that the costs of trying to achieve 100-percent satisfaction for every customer can exceed the potential rewards.

c) Create more internal accountability for customer service by dedicating an account representative to each customer.

#10 (em Customer Service

Despite some important strides in customer service, many employees still don't live, eat, and breath the necessary commitment to customer service. How do you reorient your customer service department?

a) Make sure you articulate a clear and genuine vision that can inspire and guide employees.

b) Give employees the opportunity to sharpen their interviewing and listening skills so they understand all client dynamics and build bonds that can produce new business.

c) Research the issues that differentiate Total Gas from the competition. Focus on what means most to your customers: reliability, price, problem-solving ability, and convenience.

#11 (em Metering and Billing

Customer service is one area where technology can help reduce costs significantly. What can help the company most within a few years?

a) Provide customers with the option to electronically pay their bills.

b) Begin installing a radio technology that can read gas meters remotely from the street or sidewalk.

c) Redesign the gas bill to accommodate more information that customers can use to better understand and manage their gas consumption.

#12 (em Pipeline Competition

A major gas marketer has announced plans to build a new pipeline into your service territory, giving your big industrial customers an opportunity to connect directly to its supply system. You now risk losing not only gas sales, but also transportation

revenues as some