Course

Strategies for Successful Customer Service Operations

Part of the Fall Education Institute. Learn how to define good customer service, identify and meet the needs of different types of customers, and how to create a culture of commitment to excellence in customer service.
October 1, 2019
San Antonio, Texas

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Tuesday, October 1

8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Certificate Program Requirement

Course Overview

In a time of unprecedented industry changes and evolving consumer expectations, a utility’s most important strategic asset is its relationship with its customers. This course defines good customer service, how to identify and meet the needs of different types of customers, and how to create a culture of commitment to excellence in customer service across all areas of utility management, operations and customer interactions.

Course Topics

  • Defining good customer service
  • Segmenting customers into categories and identifying their specific requirements: residential, business, commercial and industrial key accounts
  • Identifying the utility’s internal customers and other stakeholders and why they’re important
  • Managing your physical facilities to create a safe and welcoming environment
  • Operating with the customers’ needs in mind when determining service hours, locations, payment policies/options, web-based access to account info, etc.
  • The role of utility governing officials, policymakers, and senior managers in creating a culture of customer service excellence

Sample Agenda/Learning Outcomes

Download a sample agenda and learning outcomes.

Course Level

Basic. No prerequisites; no advanced preparation.

Accreditation

Recommended CEUs .7/PDHs 6.5/CPEs 7.8
Field of Study: Specialized Knowledge

Who Should Attend 

This program focuses on developing a culture of excellence in customer service among all public power utility employees and governing officials. Therefore, while the course content is designed for customer service managers, supervisors, and representatives, the course is also recommended for utility senior managers with cross-departmental responsibilities, governing board representatives, and senior officials.

Instructor

Steve VanderMeer is the Senior Vice President of Planning and Marketing for Hometown Connections. Steve joined Hometown in 1998 and provides consulting, training and facilitation support to public power utilities and their governing boards. He has worked with a wide range of municipal governments and non-profit organizations on strategic planning, governance, organiza­tional assessments, public participation, market research and customer service issues. He is the author of Customer Service: Building a Strong Infrastructure for Your Utility. Previously, Steve worked at Fort Collins Utilities where he was the Director of Marketing and Energy Services.

Register online

Course Fees

Prices increase after Sept. 9

Individual Courses:

  • Half day member rate: $350
  • Half day nonmember rate: $700
  • Full day member rate: $625
  • Full day nonmember rate: $1,250

Certificate Program (5 courses)*

  • Members: $2,500
  • Nonmembers: $5,000

*Includes all required courses and the program enrollment fee—everything you need to participate in and graduate from the certificate program

Interested in attending another course at the Fall Institute? More information on courses and fees are available on the main Fall Institute page.

Travel Arrangements

Travel arrangements and costs are the responsibility of the participants (including hotel parking, WiFi, incidentals, etc.). The Association will not reimburse for changes in travel expenditures regardless of the cause.

Meals

A light, continental breakfast will be provided each day, and a snack in the afternoon. Beverage breaks will be available throughout the day, all other meals are on your own.

Internet Access & Charging Stations

WiFi and charging/outlets may only be available in hotel common areas (sleeping rooms and hotel lobby), and will not be available in APPA classrooms. Please make arrangements to use cellular data on your device, or bring a MiFi or Internet hotspot for personal use. APPA will not provide a password for WiFi.

Name Badges

Name badges can be picked up at the Association's registration desk at the hotel starting at 7:30 a.m.

Cancellations/No-Show/Refunds/Substitutions

Registrants who cancel in writing on or before Sept. 23, 2019, are entitled to a refund of their registration fee, minus a $50 cancellation fee. Registrants who cancel after Sept. 23 will not receive a refund, but attendee substitutions will be allowed for this event only. Registrants and no-shows who do not cancel by Sept. 23 are responsible for the full registration fee and are not entitled to a refund. Cancellations must be made in writing and emailed to [email protected].

Hotel

The 2019 Fall Education Institute will take place at the:

Hotel Contessa
306 West Market Street
San Antonio, TX 78205

  • Main telephone: (210) 229-9222
  • Group Rate: $209 (Single/Double) per night (plus tax)
  • Check-in: 4 p.m.
  • Check-out: 11 a.m.
  • Parking: Valet Parking: ($17/day or $38 overnight); Self Park $17/day)

Reservations

Please note: It is possible that the block of rooms could sell out prior to Sept. 5, so make your hotel reservations early.

Internet Access

WiFi may only be available in hotel common areas (sleeping rooms and hotel lobby), and will not be available in meet­ing rooms. Please make arrangements to use cellular data on your device or bring a MiFi or Internet hotspot for personal use. The Association will not provide a password for WiFi.

Location

All courses will be held in the Hotel Contessa. The hotel is located about 10 miles from the San Antonio International Airport (SAT). Please contact the hotel for transportation options.

Travel Arrangements/Hotel Parking

Travel arrangements and costs associated with hotel parking are the responsibility of the participants. The Association will not reimburse for changes in travel expenditures regardless of the cause.

Need Assistance?

If you require assistance with hotel/travel arrangements, please contact Meeting Services at 202-467-2941 or [email protected].

Frequently Asked Questions

What to Bring

If you are enrolled in one of the following courses please note the items to bring with you. If your course is not listed you do not have to bring anything.

  • Advanced Public Utility Accounting: Bring a copy of your annual financial statement. Instructors will answer your questions on presentation and application of accounting policies and practices.
  • Basic Cost of Service: Concepts and Rate Planning: Participants are encouraged to bring a laptop to work through in-class exercises.
  • Intermediate Cost of Service: Implementation and Best Practices: Participants are required to bring a laptop with Excel and PowerPoint, to work through in-class exercises.
  • Customer Service Management Certificate Program: Participants will have the opportunity to introduce their customer service operations through photos and discussion. Attendees will be asked to provide 5-10 digital photos showing the exterior and interior of their customer service/billing operations, if possible. Additionally, the class will compare different bill styles, websites, and communications tools. Participants can provide sample utility bills, newsletters, bill stuffers or links to online resources in advance of the class.
  • Overhead Distribution Systems: Participants are required to bring a copy of the 2017 National Electric Safety Code® (ANSI C2-2017) to the course. Copies can be purchased from IEEE (www.ieee.org; 800/701-4333) or through APPA ([email protected]; 202/467-2965). Participants should bring a calculator, as well as digital photographs of typical installations and standards, along with samples of their overhead distribution standards, design guidelines, and work packages to share with the group. A laptop or tablet computer will also be helpful for accessing overhead distribution references from utilities and other sources.
  • Overhead Line Design Application Workshop: Participants are requested to bring a copy of the 2017 National Electric Safety Code® (ANSI C2-2017) to the course. Copies can be purchased from IEEE (www.ieee.org; 800/701-4333) or through APPA ([email protected]; 202/467-2965). Participants are required to bring a laptop computer and a basic engineering calcula­tor.

Class Start/End Times

All classes will begin at 8:30 with the following exceptions:

  • Public Utility Accounting will begin at 8:30 on Monday, and 8 a.m. on Tuesday
  • Advanced Public Utility Accounting will begin at 8:30 on Thursday, and 8 a.m. on Friday
  • Overhead Distribution Systems: starts at 8 a.m. each day
  • Overhead Line Design Application Workshop: starts at 1 p.m. on Thursday and 8 a.m. on Friday

Registration/Name Badges

Name badges can be picked up at the Association's registration desk at the hotel starting at 7:30 a.m.

Meals

A light breakfast, afternoon snack, and beverage breaks are included in the registration fee. All other meals are on your own.

Hotel & Location

Click here for hotel and location information.

What is the conference dress code?

The attire for the Institute ranges from business casual to casual--whatever you're comfortable in. Meeting room temperatures vary, so prepare to dress for cool conditions.

Cancellations/No-Show/Refunds/Substitutions

Registrants who cancel in writing on or before Sept. 23, 2019, are entitled to a refund of their registration fee, minus a $50 cancellation fee. Registrants who cancel after Sept. 23 will not receive a refund, but attendee substitutions will be allowed for this event only. Registrants and no-shows who do not cancel by Sept. 23 are responsible for the full registration fee and are not entitled to a refund.

Where and when are the next Education Institutes?

Winter Institute
February 10-14, 2020
DeSoto Hotel
Savannah, Georgia

Spring Institute
May 4-8, 2020
Hyatt Regency Columbus
Columbus, Ohio

Questions?

Contact us at [email protected] or call 202-467-2965.