Our Customers + Community

A utility’s brand and communication must meet the ongoing needs and desires of their customers and community. How can and how do utilities strategically brand and market themselves in this changing landscape? This track will explore how companies are enhancing their customer experience, delivering consistent communications across a variety of outlets, utilizing technology to maximize their message, and informing their customers through community outreach and education.

This track is sponsored by:

Meet the Our Customers+ Community Program Development Team. Learn more about the Customer + Corporate Symposium.

All session times are listed in Pacific time.

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

10:15 AM – 11:30 AM
Reputation Matters: Communicating in a Crisis
Moderator: Paul Babb, Community Relations Manager, NorthWestern Energy
Speaker: Eileen Burmeister, Communications Consultant, Arizona Public Service Company
Lea Petersen, Public Affairs Manager, Southern California Gas Company
When a crisis hits, what you do strategically behind the scenes as well as what you do and say publicly to your external audiences can have profound long-term impacts on your organization’s reputation and future operations. In this session, we will discuss some internal and external communication tactics and strategies to help navigate reputational management before, during, and after a crisis. Hear stories and lessons learned from Arizona Public Service and Southern California Gas Company on both the internal and external efforts that can make a big difference for your customers, community stakeholders, and company.

Topics will include:
• Developing employee ambassadors
• Pointers for employees to share with external stakeholders
• Thought leadership opportunities relevant to the crisis
• Identifying influential stakeholders, community leaders, supporting or opposing organizations
• Utilizing social media and other media opportunities to present the facts
• Selecting a spokesperson and actively supporting their messaging
• Using corporate storytelling to make the customer – not the company – the hero

12:30 PM – 1:45 PM
The Evolution of a Communication Strategy
Moderator: Ali Barsamian, Sr. Director of Marketing, VertexOne
Speakers: Alex Burton, Head of Partnerships, Nextdoor Service Provider Platform, Nextdoor
Amy Trinidad, Public Affairs Lead, Colorado Springs Utilities
Andrea Smith, Director of Marketing & Communications, San Diego Gas & Electric Company
Tom Tarantino, Sr. Public Policy Manager, Twitter
During this time of unprecedented change, only the most agile digital communicators will be able to connect and communicate effectively; only the prepared will survive. Join us for a dynamic panel discussion about how a pandemic and challenges brought on in 2020 has required us, as communications professionals, to pivot and evolve to effectively reach our customers and stakeholders.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

8:30 AM – 9:45 AM
Communicating Across Language Barriers
Moderator: Jo Dee Black, Public Relations Specialist, NorthWestern Energy
Speakers: Daisie Cristobal Sanchez, Customer Programs and Assistance Manager, Southern California Gas Company
Maria Morales, Manager, Customer Care Center, Arizona Public Service Company
Mario Cantu, Community Engagement Coordinator, Chelan County PUD
Thomas Glanzer, Community Relations Manager, NorthWestern Energy
In a time of unprecedented change and hardship for many customers, utilities have worked tirelessly to keep channels of communication open with all customers. Establishing trust and transparency between customers and companies is more important than ever before. How confident are you that your company is doing enough to reach and hear from customers who are not fluent in English? This session will provide an overview of the steps you can take to connect better with your customers whether this is a new idea for your company, or new perspective for a more robust and established communications program. Hear from your peers as this session explores the following topics:
• Lessons shared from companies with a long history of serving diverse communities, as well as companies serving changing communities that include new customers with limited English proficiency
• Establishing a business case for building bridges across language barriers
• Charting your company’s roadmap based on self-assessment
• Building or enhancing existing processes to communicate with all of your company’s customers.

10:15 AM – 11:30 AM
The Moving Target of Customer Satisfaction and the Customer Experience
Moderator: Sarah Allen, Manger Customer Interactions, NorthWestern Energy
Speakers: Andrew Heath, Managing Director, Utility Intelligence, J.D. Power and Associates
Cameron Daline, Customer Experience Manager, Clark Public Utilities
Daniel Drennan, Manager, Market Development, Tacoma Public Utilities
Customers’ expectations of their Utility has evolved beyond keeping the lights on and the gas flowing. Advances in technology, the way in which customers interact with other businesses, and what is important to individuals all influence the expectations they have for you, their Utility company.  This session will explore the evolution of customer satisfaction within the Utility industry and how to adapt to those expectations.

This session is sponsored by: