ELECTRIC ENERGY | SUMMER 2020 - 20

Utilities understand that customer-centric practices are now even more
critical during this time, even as the way we communicate with employees and customers continues to evolve. The utility workforce has quickly
acclimated to be effective and productive at this time. Some utilities have
even reported a rise in productivity with so many employees working
from home. Call centers for entire utilities have been redistributed out to
individual employee's homes. New technology has been deployed very
quickly. As states reopen in phased approaches, the utility workforce and
customers seem to be eager to get back to work and get back to normal,
but the uncertainty is still something we're all dealing with.

HEARING CUSTOMERS STARTS WITH QUALITATIVE RESEARCH
In all circumstances, when we want to hear customers or begin market
research to find out what customers want, the first step is actually listening
to customers talk. Conduct focus groups. Monitor customer service calls.
Listen to tapes of customer interactions. Listen to the frontline employees
and what they are hearing and seeing. Use that input to guide the research
design. The more big data is used to analyze and predict, the more important
qualitative research becomes in helping sort through the "noise."
Your employees are a huge part of this. Ask your employees their perspective on what they feel are the barriers keeping utilities from becoming
even more customer-focused and be willing and open to accepting what
they have to say. Frontline people see it all the time and management is
trying to catch up and listen to employees. This is research that can be
done inside the company and you will hear a lot of "eye-opening" insights
if you are willing to listen.
Having a culture in place that encourages employee feedback to keep
the organization focused on customers is critical. Utilities have really accelerated in that culture shift in the last five to 10 years. I started working in
this industry in the 1970s, and electric utilities were engineering-centric.
Similarly, hospitals were doctor-centric and airlines were pilot-centric.
That's not the case for any of those industries now. When you look at
the history of electric utilities, that engineering-centric model worked
great. If the power was on, customers were happy. Over the course of
100 years, customer expectations have changed slowly. These past five
to 10 years have been a different story, and expectations have changed
exponentially. At the same time, utilities have quickly adapted to become
more customer-centric than ever before. COVID-19 is putting a lot of
those efforts and programs to the test, but it's also a chance to see what
really works. The bottom line is that for a service that is on 24/7/365,
customers have high expectations and utilities generally deliver on this.
20  ELECTRIC ENERGY | SUMMER 2020

The same customers being served by their electric company are also
the ones being frustrated when their internet takes a half of a second to
load a page. Not too long ago, these same customers were happy when
their dial-up modem would only take five or 10 seconds to connect
to the internet.
Most customers are not in a position to compare service levels with
their power provider to other electric utilities, especially if they have
not moved outside of their service territory. Some customers' point
of reference becomes phone or internet providers, but companies like
Amazon are becoming the utilities' real "service benchmarks," especially when utilities talk about getting into retail markets, such as smart
home products.

TECHNOLOGY: DRIVING UP EXPECTATIONS WHILE
ENABLING UTILITIES TO UNDERSTAND CUSTOMER NEEDS
AND BEHAVIORS
Quickly changing technology is a key driver of the higher customer
expectations we are seeing, but technology also offers a huge opportunity to better understand customer needs and to better deliver on those
expectations. These are the eight things that really stand out for WestGroup
when we think about the future of market research of customer experience.
The following are some of the market research trends that are or will most
likely be used by electric utilities in the coming years.
Increased focus on data analytics capabilities-Collecting and analyzing
big data and using predictive analytics-e.g. smart meter technology-
provides individual load data at the household level for some utilities.
Harvesting this to data to customize programs is a powerful tool.
More automation-Computer technology continues to shorten the path
between data and the decision makers. Online market research tools are
feeding directly into analytical and reporting tools and making this available
to utility decision makers. In some cases, this is provided real-time. Listening
to customers has never been easier.
More focus on mobile technologies-Smartphone and communication
technology impacts how researchers (and utilities) listen and communicate
with customers. This applies to both data collection from the market research
and communication with utility customers.
More multi-mode methods to collect data-Combining telephone, web
and text survey data into the survey process is being used to research various customer groups, including hard-to-reach populations.
Increase need for qualitative due to greater reliance on big data-We still
need focus groups and one-on-one interviews to listen to customers/public.



ELECTRIC ENERGY | SUMMER 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of ELECTRIC ENERGY | SUMMER 2020

Letter from the Executive Director
RMEL Board of Directors
Effective Communication & Culture Strategies in Times of Uncertainty
Overcoming Cybersecurity Overload & Security Impacts During COVID-19
Staying Connected to Customer Needs During and After the COVID-19 Pandemic
Now What? A Move to Post-COVID Operation With the Help of e-Learning
2020 Fall Convention
The RMEL Foundation Auction is Going VIRTUAL!
2020 Calendar of Events
Member Listings
Foundation Board of Directors List
Advertisers’ Index
ELECTRIC ENERGY | SUMMER 2020 - Intro
ELECTRIC ENERGY | SUMMER 2020 - bellyband1
ELECTRIC ENERGY | SUMMER 2020 - bellyband2
ELECTRIC ENERGY | SUMMER 2020 - cover1
ELECTRIC ENERGY | SUMMER 2020 - cover2
ELECTRIC ENERGY | SUMMER 2020 - 3
ELECTRIC ENERGY | SUMMER 2020 - 4
ELECTRIC ENERGY | SUMMER 2020 - 5
ELECTRIC ENERGY | SUMMER 2020 - Letter from the Executive Director
ELECTRIC ENERGY | SUMMER 2020 - 7
ELECTRIC ENERGY | SUMMER 2020 - RMEL Board of Directors
ELECTRIC ENERGY | SUMMER 2020 - 9
ELECTRIC ENERGY | SUMMER 2020 - Effective Communication & Culture Strategies in Times of Uncertainty
ELECTRIC ENERGY | SUMMER 2020 - 11
ELECTRIC ENERGY | SUMMER 2020 - 12
ELECTRIC ENERGY | SUMMER 2020 - 13
ELECTRIC ENERGY | SUMMER 2020 - Overcoming Cybersecurity Overload & Security Impacts During COVID-19
ELECTRIC ENERGY | SUMMER 2020 - 15
ELECTRIC ENERGY | SUMMER 2020 - 16
ELECTRIC ENERGY | SUMMER 2020 - 17
ELECTRIC ENERGY | SUMMER 2020 - Staying Connected to Customer Needs During and After the COVID-19 Pandemic
ELECTRIC ENERGY | SUMMER 2020 - 19
ELECTRIC ENERGY | SUMMER 2020 - 20
ELECTRIC ENERGY | SUMMER 2020 - 21
ELECTRIC ENERGY | SUMMER 2020 - Now What? A Move to Post-COVID Operation With the Help of e-Learning
ELECTRIC ENERGY | SUMMER 2020 - 23
ELECTRIC ENERGY | SUMMER 2020 - 24
ELECTRIC ENERGY | SUMMER 2020 - 25
ELECTRIC ENERGY | SUMMER 2020 - 26
ELECTRIC ENERGY | SUMMER 2020 - 27
ELECTRIC ENERGY | SUMMER 2020 - 2020 Fall Convention
ELECTRIC ENERGY | SUMMER 2020 - 29
ELECTRIC ENERGY | SUMMER 2020 - The RMEL Foundation Auction is Going VIRTUAL!
ELECTRIC ENERGY | SUMMER 2020 - 2020 Calendar of Events
ELECTRIC ENERGY | SUMMER 2020 - Member Listings
ELECTRIC ENERGY | SUMMER 2020 - 33
ELECTRIC ENERGY | SUMMER 2020 - Advertisers’ Index
ELECTRIC ENERGY | SUMMER 2020 - cover3
ELECTRIC ENERGY | SUMMER 2020 - cover4
ELECTRIC ENERGY | SUMMER 2020 - outsert1
ELECTRIC ENERGY | SUMMER 2020 - outsert2
ELECTRIC ENERGY | SUMMER 2020 - outsert3
ELECTRIC ENERGY | SUMMER 2020 - outsert4
https://www.nxtbook.com/naylor/RMET/RMET0320
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