Rural Missouri - September 2013 - (Page 5)

Hart to Heart Being the best in the business H by Barry Hart ow are we doing? Those involved with operating your electric cooperative need to know the answer to that question. They want to know if their plans and policies are providing you with the affordable and reliable service you need. For this reason, wholesale power supplier Associated Electric Cooperative conducts a survey every three years on behalf of participating co-op systems. The survey not only gauges member satisfaction, but it also helps us learn more about those we serve. The results of the latest survey, a compilation of more than 9,000 completed phone calls, were released recently. Some of the results confirmed what we already suspected, while others were a little surprising. For example, the survey shows that more than half of Missouri electric co-op members are over the age of 55. That wasn’t a surprise. The survey also showed most members have had a long-term relationship with their electric co-op. More than half have been an electric co-op member for at least 20 years, and these members were the most satisfied with their cooperative. Overall, you told us you are very satisfied with the overall performance of your local co-op. In fact, satisfaction levels were higher for electric co-ops than for all other utility service providers monitored by the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI). Our average ACSI score was significantly higher than any other segment of the electric utility industry. In another benchmark of member satisfaction, 82 percent said they would stay with their electric co-op if given a choice of suppliers. That figure is also significantly higher than any other supplier. Some of the highest ratings in the survey came in core operational areas such as providing reliable service, restoring outages quickly and handling problems. These results seem to validate the widely held belief that electric cooperative employees are extremely good at their jobs. On the other hand, the survey shows we need to do a better job communicating what we are doing to ensure you receive good value for your money. It’s clear members are struggling with the economic realities of today’s economy. Electric co-ops need to share with members the steps being taken to contain future cost increases, while also pointing out the value of electricity in an era of rising costs for other energy sources such as gasoline. In short, the survey says we are good at doing what we are in business for, which is providing electricity at the lowest possible cost. What we aren’t so good at is pointing this out. “Overall, you told us your electric cooperative continues to enjoy high levels of satisfaction across the state.” Barry Hart It appears we also need to spend more time demonstrating the many advantages of belonging to a cooperative. While 45 percent consider themselves a member, about half identified themselves as a customer. Another important series of questions we asked concerned environmental regulations that will affect your electric bill. Generally, you told us you do not feel concerned about issues such as climate change and 70 percent said they would not pay any more to combat this issue. We were pleased to see that members get most of their information about their electric cooperative from Rural Missouri. But we also spotted a trend toward greater use of social media, such as Facebook and Twitter. You can expect us to step up our education efforts on these new media. Many thanks to all of you who took the time to respond to this survey. You helped provide us with critical information that will guide us in our efforts. While we are excited to see these high satisfaction levels, we see plenty of room for improvement. Rest assured, your electric cooperative will continue to work at being the best in the business. Hart is the executive vice president of the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives. Guest Column Hearts and hands helping communities M by Marisa Christy-Kerns any individuals living in rural Missouri take pride in the beauty of their homes, land and communities. With this pride comes the dedication to do what is necessary to preserve this beauty. The Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) has the AdoptA-Highway Program where many individuals and organizations adopt sections of road in and around their homes and communities. They give of their time to keep the areas clean and to preserve the beauty of the land. Adoptions could be litter clean-up, mowing, beautification or growing native wildflowers and grasses. Whatever the adoption, it is the volunteers in the program who make all the difference in the world in keeping Missouri beautiful. When driving down the road, you might notice a blue sign along the road that reads “In Loving Memory of (Name).” Those individuals are turning sorrow into smiles, as that sign is a representation of an adoption in the Adopt-A-Highway Program in memory of their loved one. As they are preserving the beauty of the land, they are at the same time preserving the memories they have of their loved one through this service. Their hearts and hands are reaching out to keep the roads clean and beautiful for their state and community, all in the name of their loved one. Another sign you may notice along the roadside reads “Area Beautification” with an organization or business name below it. It may be an area in a park or near a business. These organizations are preserving a piece of Missouri by adopting the area for beautification. From mowing the area, landscaping or planting flowers or shrubs, these organizations want this to be a spot for people to enjoy, whether they are stopping to rest on a park bench or just driving by. These are just a couple of adoption examples. The AdoptA-Highway Program began in Missouri in 1987, and now there are more than 4,000 groups and 40,000 volunteers in the program that cover approximately 5,800 miles. As coordinator of the program for MoDOT’s Northeast District, I am proud to say we have “Thank you to all Missourians for what you do to help keep our state looking wonderful.” Marisa Christy-Kerns SEPTEMBER 2013 417 groups taking care of 723 miles in our 17 counties alone. As you can see, there are numerous community organizations, church groups, businesses and families that make it a priority to help keep Missouri roadsides and communities clean. These individuals are not only community leaders, youth or families of lost loved ones, they are all individuals putting their hearts and hands to work toward the same goal — keeping their homes, land, communities and the state of Missouri beautiful for generations to come. If you are not currently part of the Adopt-A-Highway Program, but would like more information, you can visit our website at or give us a call at 1-888-ASK-MODOT (1-888-275-6636) and ask for the Adopt-A-Highway coordinator in your area. We would love to visit with you. Thank you to all Missourians for what you do to help keep our state looking wonderful. Christy-Kerns is a senior customer relations specialist and Adopt-A-Highway coordinator for the MoDOT Northeast District in Macon. 5

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - September 2013

Rural Missouri - September 2013
Merchant miniatures
Scorching the border
All aboard
Blasts from the past
Out of the Way Eats
Mowing down the competition
Hearth and Home
A place for Pershing
Around Missouri

Rural Missouri - September 2013