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Utility-Customer Partnerships

Engaging the consumer takes on new meaning.

Fortnightly Magazine - October 2010

to-do list that are critical for our customer relationships.

Our leading need, right now, is to develop the information systems capability to have a unified customer experience. We should not force different logons to different systems, and need to make sure that however we communicate, whether it be via bill inserts, text messaging, email, Web site interactions or phone applications, we can provision unified and targeted communication.

Forline, PSE&G: We build strong partnerships with our customers and take the time to listen, both formally and informally. We are not a company of bystanders.

To formally seek our customers’ views, we have a robust perception survey program targeting our residential, small business and large business customers. Our program comprises regular surveys, focus groups and moment-of-truth questionnaires. We compare our results with a benchmarking database of more than 80 companies and map our data into a model that helps us to understand the paths and levers for improving customer perception. Understanding our customers and responding well to their input is a priority.

We also have account representatives focused on our industrial and commercial customers and continue to focus our efforts in this area despite budget concerns. In the event of critical situations, such as storms and heat waves, our close relationships with these customers make all the difference.

Our tradition of community service—a strong source of pride—also keeps us connected with our customers. Our employees are the true heroes in this area, serving at soup kitchens, coaching sports, raising funds for various causes, and more. An example of this hard work: We have been the number one New Jersey corporate fundraiser for the March of Dimes for the last 10 years. Employees also actively use our grant and matching programs, leveraging their own resources to make New Jersey a stronger place to live, work and play. And our company foundation supports a range of programs, donating more than $50 million to support education, the environment and community economic development since 2000. We play a meaningful role in making the state a better place, and in so doing we build strong relationships.


Fortnightly: What systems and service providers are you using to encourage customer participation with utility programs?

Nuttall, OGE: We have an SAP ERP backbone, and use SAP’s customer care system as the tool that our customer-service representatives use for communicating with the customer. As part of our smart-grid program, we are using Silver Spring Networks applications to provide portals for those in our demand-response pilot.

Our first iPhone app is in beta now, and we are completing extensive work in organizing and hosting our customer-oriented data.

We are developing the skills and infrastructure needed to be able to enhance our interaction with our customers beyond the emphasis on the monthly bill and the call center. This involves many structural improvements, including significant improvements in our handling and organization of data.

McLeod, APS: The original customer-information system (CIS) APS used was an IBM CIS, which we have adapted and customized to meet our needs. The APS call center and our billing service continue