Residential customers and utilities benefit from varying rate plans. Still, the truth is, many customers don’t understand how their utility rates work or what rate would be best for their lifestyle. In a recent survey conducted by the Smart Energy Consumer Collaborative, 47% of customers didn’t know what their current rate plan was. In the same study, most customers said they would be willing to try a new rate plan, especially if it would allow them to save money. In order for utilities to make alternative rates useful and widely accepted, they need to have effective communications and provide educational tools that help customers understand what rate options are available and how their bill may change.
Market research is imperative to today’s utilities industry. Understanding current and potential customer needs and wants helps us make more informed business decisions and aids in the development of focused business strategies. Customer surveys take the guesswork and the assumptions out of determining what initiatives will likely be successful and cost effective. Consistently working to understand our customer base provides us with the direct feedback and a communication channel to really “hear” what they are asking of us. Data analytics allows us to target customers and obtain specific feedback for any topic, including opinions on utility rate changes, reliability, renewables, customer programs, and much more. Read More about How Customer Research Really Works »
Following a distinguished career that saw him rise from a city engineer in Ohio to helm the nation’s largest public power joint action agency (JAA), Marc Gerken has joined the staff of Hometown Connections, Inc. He retired recently after serving for twenty years as president and chief executive officer of American Municipal Power, Inc. (AMP), one of the six joint action agencies that co-own Hometown Connections. Prior to his retirement from AMP, Mr. Gerken served as AMP’s representative on the Hometown Connections Board of Directors. His position on the Hometown staff is Executive Advisor/Strategy and JAA Relations.
The results of the Kissimmee Utility Authority’s recent customer satisfaction survey by GreatBlue Research illustrate how to use customer feedback for continuous improvement and demonstrate why it is so important to consistently ask for feedback. Deciding what to ask your customers can be challenging, but once you identify your target areas, you can focus in on your improvement efforts. KUA had a three percentage point increase in customer satisfaction from 2019 to 2020 from doing exactly that – a job well done!
Current financial data on the impact of COVID-19 on community-owned utilities reveals several national trends and the need to factor in case-by-case issues during the analysis. Above all, the data makes clear that the best strategy for a strong recovery is following the fundamentals of utility financial management: develop key financial targets, make a plan to meet those targets, and stay true to the plan.
A public power industry leader with expertise in regulatory compliance and distribution system management, Mark Ennis of the Alabama Municipal Electric Authority (AMEA) has joined the Board of Directors of Hometown Connections, Inc. AMEA is one of six joint action agencies that co-own Hometown Connections. Mr. Ennis is AMEA’s Manager of Compliance and Distribution Services and AMEA’s representative on the Hometown Board.
Cyber-crime is on the rise. Your first line of defense is to know your vulnerabilities. Turn to the Cybersecurity Assessment Solution from Hometown Connections, Inc. It’s the affordable, preliminary step in effective cybersecurity management
To meet public power’s need for cybersecurity solutions that are comprehensive and cost effective, Hometown Connections, Inc. has launched a Cybersecurity Management Program for public power electric, gas, water, and wastewater utilities and other city departments. Hometown Connections is helping community-owned organizations across the United States evaluate their cybersecurity requirements, develop plans for cyber risk management, and deploy effective cybersecurity defenses that include ongoing monitoring, training, remediation, and maintenance services.
During the challenging time of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is imperative to understand the thoughts, opinions, and sentiments of your customers so you can better prepare to meet their needs. As we begin to return to a “new normal”, it is important to understand how your utility will operate in the coming months, and how customers will feel about these changes. Use a low-cost digital survey by GreatBlue Research to understand how your residential and commercial customers think about their ability to pay future bills, payment options, disconnect policies, and utility re-opening plans. GreatBlue proposes the use of digital research to effectively and efficiently gather insights from your residential and/or commercial customers. These research findings can then be used to target those customers with immediate needs and/or concerns and provide the best possible assistance.
Understand the cyber threat landscape, learn how to estimate the true financial costs of a cyber crime, and get tips on building your budget and risk management strategies. Register for this two-part webinar series to be held in June 2020 by the American Public Power Association Academy. Speakers include representatives from AESI-US, Inc. and Marsh Wortham Power Gen Insurance, marketing partners of Hometown Connections Inc.