Consumers Energy, Westar Energy, Pacific Gas and Electric, ComEd and Kansas City Power and Light recognized with Chartwell’s 2017 Best Practices Awards

By Suzanne Haggerty, Research Manager

Consumers Energy, Westar Energy, Pacific Gas and Electric, ComEd and Kansas City Power and Light have taken the top honors in Chartwell’s 13th annual Best Practices Awards.

Chartwell’s Best Practices Awards recognize excellence among electric and gas utilities with respect to projects, programs and service initiatives. The categories include Billing and Payment Programs, Communications, Customer Service, Outage Communications and Program Marketing.

Gold Award winners will discuss their initiatives during EMACS – The Customer Experience Conference, Oct. 10-13 in Phoenix.

All Best Practice Award winners and finalists will be recognized during an awards luncheon on Oct. 12. The conference features more than 30 sessions focused on customer experience-related issues facing the utility industry, including billing and payment, customer care, marketing, energy programs and outage communications. A special rate is available to attendees who register by Sept. 15, 2017.

Each year, the judges, who are all members of Chartwell’s research team, are charged with the difficult task of selecting the best programs. This year’s selection process was made even tougher by the number of quality entries that were submitted – dozens across five categories:

Billing and Payment Programs

  • Consumers Energy will receive the Gold Billing and Payment Programs Award for its revamped payment process, which resulted in a decrease in walk-in payments and call volume and achieved other operational efficiencies.
  • Sacramento Municipal Utility District earned the Silver Billing and Payment Programs Award for its integrated multimedia campaign, which significantly increased enrollment in the utility’s Bill Alerts service.
  • National Grid earned the Bronze Billing and Payment Programs Award for the launch of its Quick Pay feature, allowing customers to begin a payment transaction within two clicks of arriving on the utility’s homepage.

Communications

  • Westar Energy is the Gold Communications winner for its Renewable Future Campaign, which used humanized stories combined with digestible, informative soundbites to educate and inform customers while reducing cynicism and improving brand favorability and sentiment.
  • Entergy will receive the Silver Communications Award for its “We Power Life” campaign, which delivered significant increases in brand awareness while raising the utility’s corporate citizenship profile.
  • Southern California Edison earned the Bronze Communications Award for its customer satisfaction advertising strategy, which was developed to build awareness around key services while analyzing the relationship of advertising spend and customer satisfaction.

Customer Service

  • Chartwell analysts named Pacific Gas and Electric as the Gold Customer Service Award winner for its remodeling of the small and mid-size business customer experience, which has streamlined ways for this segment to connect with the utility.
  • ComEd will receive the Silver Customer Service Award for its website redesign strategy, which used responsive design to enhance the mobile experience, resulting in a significant shift in channel traffic and higher mobile website customer satisfaction.
  • Ameren Illinois will receive the Bronze Customer Service Award for its campaign to incorporate empathy into interactions across the company’s contact center, chat and email communications, resulting in an increase in post-interaction customer satisfaction.

Outage Communications

  • Chartwell analysts chose ComEd as the Gold Outage Communications Award winner for its AMI Outage Reporting Channel Integration project, which seamlessly integrated a meter ping across all of its customer-facing outage reporting channels. This technology has resulted in fewer truck rolls and allows operations personnel to focus on the outages requiring ComEd resolution.
  • Pacific Gas and Electric will receive the Silver Outage Communications Award for Outage Notifications Experience, which used big data analytics to validate customer feedback and improve its outage notification process.
  • Xcel Energy will receive the Bronze Outage Communications Award for its enhancements of the customer experience in outage communications, which included the automated enrollment of 3 million customers into outage notifications, enabling an online holistic storm center and a cadence to utilizing that storm center across all major communication channels, and the launch of an outage-enabled mobile app.

Program Marketing

  • Kansas City Power and Light earned the Gold Program Marketing Award for its 2016 campaign to deepen its relationship with EV owners and increase adoption across its service territory.
  • Pacific Gas and Electric earned the Silver Program Marketing Award for its Enhanced Peak Day Pricing SMS/Text Alerts full rollout campaign, which resulted in a growth rate of nearly 500% for businesses receiving text alerts about Peak Day Pricing Event Days.
  • Hydro-Québec earned the Bronze Program Marketing Award for its campaign encouraging customers to complete moving transactions online, reducing call volume as well as mail and email transactions.

During another marathon viewing session fueled by coffee and Atlanta’s famous Sublime Doughnuts, Chartwell’s research crew chose the five finalists in the People’s Choice category, which recognizes outstanding creative achievement in short video marketing/communications efforts, such as TV spots or digital pre-roll.

EMACS attendees will select the top video at the Oct. 12 awards luncheon.

The utilities competing for first place include:

  • ComEd
  • Entergy
  • PECO
  • Southern California Edison
  • Westar Energy

For more information on EMACS or Chartwell’s Best Practices Awards, contact Suzanne Haggerty.

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