A comprehensive energy efficiency campaign and a state-of-the-art utility website garnered top honors during Chartwell Inc.’s annual Best Practices in Marketing and Customer Service awards, presented in San Diego at EMACS – The Customer Experience Conference.

PECO Energy, based in Philadelphia, received the award in the marketing category for its Smart Ideas campaign, which prompted Southeastern Pennsylvania residents to take an active role in reducing their energy consumption through a variety of humorous and thoughtful television and radio commercials coupled with print and Web-based calls to action. DTE Energy, Detroit, was recognized as the best in the customer service category for the many interactive customer service options and the easy-to-use design of its website, www.dteenergy.com. “These awards are more than just a beauty contest,” said Jennifer Allen, Senior Research Analyst at Chartwell, and a member of the research firm’s three-judge panel. “These award winners conveyed a clear and concise strategy behind their efforts and showed impressive results in their submissions.” PECO Energy is under government mandate to reduce energy demand and met or exceeded challenging energy savings and communications goals. PECO surpassed its calendar year goal of 16,000 rebate applications for appliances and HVAC equipment by 50% as of June, reporting 24,000 applications at midyear. DTE Energy reported that 45% of its customer base has registered accounts at its website, which is now the utility’s largest single contact channel, accounting for 46% of inbound customer contact volume. Chartwell recognized DTE for its efforts in ensuring customer satisfaction on the website and driving customers to do business via the electronic medium. DTE also went through a recent website redesign that further attracted customers to its site. In addition to recognizing PECO Energy and DTE Energy with the awards for Best Practices in Marketing and Best Practice in Customer Service, respectively, Chartwell also singled out several other utilities for their quality award entries. Those utilities receiving certificates for best in class included: In the Marketing category:
  • Ameren Missouri, for Overall Results and customer satisfaction gains achieved through its Personal Energy Reports campaign, which presents Ameren Missouri customers with a detailed view of their year-long energy usage history and comparative analysis;
  • Kansas City Power & Light for Creative Implementation with its KCP&L Connections campaign, a well-rounded effort that tied together energy reduction goals and helping customers through the economic challenges they face;
  • Southern California Edison for Originality with its Smart Meter Education Campaign and specifically the “Carl and Eddie” vignettes it uses to educate customers on smart grid and pricing programs;
  • Georgia Power for Sniff Out Energy Savings, an appealing and humorous advertising campaign that featured dogs being trained to “sniff” out energy efficiency opportunities for Georgia Power customers.
In the Customer Service category:
  • South Carolina Gas & Electric for Efficiency Improvements with its Online Move Center, a sophisticated Web portal for customers signing up for, transferring or discontinuing their energy service;
  • Progress Energy, for Technology Innovation with Intelligent Call Channel Management, an automated call routing system that has helped improve operations and customer satisfaction in the call center;
  • San Diego Gas & Electric for Overall Quality with its Smart Meter Implementation and Education. In light of other utilities having experienced customer backlash over smart meters, SDG&E has worked diligently to keep its customers informed of when they will get a smart meter and what they can expect once the new technology is in place.
  • Dominion Virginia Power for Overall Effectiveness with its Customer Operations Procedures Specialist (COPS) program, which is a group of dedicated employees who ensure call center agents are educated on the latest issues and policy as well as work as a liaison between customer service and other vital areas of the utility.
Culminating with a ceremony on Oct. 25 in San Diego, Calif., this was the seventh annual presentation by Chartwell of the Best Practices Awards in Marketing and Customer Service. Presented each year at the EMACS Conference, Chartwell recognizes excellence in the areas that influence customers’ overall experience with their utility. Chartwell congratulates the winner and runners-up, as well as all the 58 utilities who submitted entries for the 2010 Chartwell Best Practices awards.