Marketing and Member Relations

Big Rivers provides marketing support to its member-systems through a variety of diverse services and programs and as a result, success requires teamwork at many different organization levels. Big Rivers continually works with its member-systems to identify, develop and implement strategic initiatives, e.g., communication, energy efficiency, customer service, community involvement, Touchstone Energy, etc., that are designed to meet the evolving needs of the member-customers and ensure customer satisfaction continues to increase.

By ensuring programs and services support key performance attributes, each member-system has successfully established a progressively increasing customer satisfaction trend. The trend continued through 2005, as overall residential satisfaction scores increased for all three member-systems and as a result, the Big Rivers’ system-wide weighted average increased by an impressive three percentage points. During 2005, on a system-wide average, 74 percent of respondents rated their overall satisfaction level with their respective cooperative as a “9” or “10” on a ten-point scale with “10” being the highest possible rating. Equally impressive were the 2005 Commercial & Industrial Satisfaction Survey results. The Big Rivers’ system-wide average for overall performance satisfaction increased from 74 to 78, which reflects a four percentage point increase versus prior year. The Big Rivers’ system-wide average of satisfaction with overall performance has increased eight percentage points since 2002. Other 2005 key performance indicators also reflected Big Rivers’ system-wide average improvements including a six percentage point increase in customer service, a five percentage point increase in reliability satisfaction and a three percentage point increase is satisfaction with cost (2005 vs. 2004). In addition, 2005 commercial and industrial transaction satisfaction increased on a system-wide average by an amazing ten percentage points compared to prior year.

Communication efforts in 2005 with the member-systems continued to focus on increasing member-customer awareness of the “cooperative difference” including several key advantages associated with cooperative membership. Special emphasis was placed on the competitive rates offered by our member-systems.

In addition, to support our member-systems’ economic development efforts, an information ad, “The Bluegrass is Greener Here,” was developed to promote the western Kentucky region. During 2005, our commercial and industrial communication efforts centered on the C & I News, which is a 12-page publication developed, printed and distributed for the member-systems. Articles feature commercial and industrial customers that have taken advantage of energy efficiency services provided by their respective cooperative and as a result, reduced their energy costs and improved their energy efficiency.

Big Rivers and its member-systems remained active members of Touchstone Energy during 2005. While Touchstone Energy provides added value to electric co-ops through a variety of resources, the brand is most recognized as a cost-efficient communication vehicle designed to increase awareness of the “cooperative difference.” Big Rivers’ member-systems also successfully introduced the Co-op Connections Card Program during 2005, which is an added-value program developed by Touchstone Energy. The program involves distribution of a co-op logo wallet card, which enables member-customers to receive discounts on “promotional” purchases offered by participating retailers.

As natural gas and propane prices continued to escalate during 2005, consumers became increasingly interested in energy efficiency. Big Rivers’ member-systems offered an energy efficiency incentive program for the first time in 2005. The program included incentives for installation of add-on heat pumps (duel fuel), conversion from a gas to an electric water heater and participation in the Touchstone Energy Home Program, which requires all electric, energy efficient home construction. Promotion materials were developed and provided to the member-systems for targeting home builders, HVAC contractors and individual cooperative member-customers.

In anticipation of member-customer inquiries regarding energy efficiency, Big Rivers also developed a general training program for the member-systems. The program provided general information about energy use in the home and addressed first-line issues such as lighting (compact fluorescent bulbs), heating and cooling, water heaters, energy prices, sealing of the house, etc. While the training program was primarily designed to help customer service representatives make standard recommendations to call-ins, the information was also made available to any employee who interacts directly with member-customers.

Big Rivers continued to team up with its member-systems in community involvement programs during 2005 and provided support for several key programs that include Touchstone Energy Scholarships, Newspaper in Education Program, Kentucky Touchstone Energy All ”A” Classic, High School Role Model Poster Program (endorsed by the Kentucky High School Athletic Association), Touchstone Energy Hot Air Balloon charity events, etc.