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Utility-Customer Partnerships

Engaging the consumer takes on new meaning.

Fortnightly Magazine - October 2010

praise, but because it was the right thing to do.

This situation demonstrates the influence of each customer with a computer and a Web site. Before social media, we might never have known about this customer’s frustrations, but today’s on-line tools helped opened a fresh communication channel between her and us, leading to an improved relationship and a happy ending for all. Social media is changing the way we do business, and we look at this as an opportunity to engage customers in exciting new ways and receive more feedback.

Jackson, Oncor: Vegetation management is always a sensitive issue and we wish we never had to trim a tree, but when customers’ trees grow into our power lines and cause outages, we have an obligation to prune. Our customers asked us for more options, and we are now sending arborists to personally meet with each and every homeowner to discuss all the cuts that will be made and why. For those customers who are willing to sign an alternate tree maintenance agreement and hire a line clearance qualified tree service, Oncor initially prunes trees seven feet from our lines for safety, then we allow customers to trim as often as they like as long as a seven foot minimum distance is maintained. It’s tough to strike a balance between safety and reliability and the expectations customers have, but it’s been a worthwhile exercise.

Schinski, PPL: We have received very positive feedback so far on our virtual hold system, and our Web site has received positive coverage in several publications for the timeliness and completeness of its data.

In building solutions to support PPL Electric Utilities, we have been fortunate to have an information services organization that is quick to adapt and that understands the utility’s business and processes. PPL employs business analysts who are tasked with analyzing and understanding business operations so we can provide the most appropriate technology to meet business objectives. That kind of understanding of both the business and the technology is invaluable in creating solutions that meet the customers’ needs and demands.