Course

Utilizing Technology to Enhance Customer Service

Part of the Winter Education Institute and Customer Service Management Certificate Program. Hear about the latest utility technology options that are enhancing public power services nationwide.
February 8, 2019
Nashville, Tennessee
8:30am EDT - 12:00pm EDT

Back to Winter Institute Courses

Friday, Feb. 8

8:30 a.m. – Noon

Certificate Program Requirement

Course Overview

Customer service representatives, managers, and supervisors play a key role in the purchase, deployment, and utilization of technologies and information systems that support the functions of their service departments. Customer information systems (CIS), metering technologies, billing systems, telecommunications systems, and cloud-based software applications are just a few of the technology options these stakeholders must understand and evaluate. Hear about the latest utility technology options that are enhancing public power services nationwide.

Course Topics

  • Current customer service technologies, including billing, outage management, interactive voice response, advanced metering infrastructure, SCADA, pre-pay metering, work order management, field service automation, automated vehicle location, and cybersecurity
  • New technologies/applications and how they can enhance utility operations and customer service
  • Preparing a technology plan, including identifying current and future needs, budgeting, vendor selection, interoperability between software platforms, navigating the approvals process, project management, implementation strategies, and product training
  • Cybersecurity and the critical role it plays in business continuity

Course Level

Basic: No prerequisites; no advance preparation.

Accreditation

Recommended CEUs .3/PDHs 3.25/CPEs 3.8
Field of Study: Specialized Knowledge

Sample Agenda

View a sample agenda and learning outcomes for this course.

What to Bring

For those attending the week-long certificate program: participants will share examples, practices and experiences from their own utilities. Attendees are encouraged to provide digital photos of the customer-facing areas of their operations. This could include: outside signage, entrances, drive-through lanes, and interior photos of payment stations, information kiosks, waiting areas, etc. Attendees will introduce their utility to other participants through these photos, highlighting elements that work well, or not so well. Attendees may also wish to share samples of their utility bills and newsletters.

Attendees will receive a copy of the Customer Service: Building a Strong Infrastructure for Your Utility publication.

Instructors

Patricia Cruz, Vice President of Consulting & Training, Hometown Connections
For nearly 20 years, Patty has helped utilities set a strategic destination for the future and then direct operations towards that vision. Her areas of expertise include achieving organizational effectiveness, strategic planning, change management, communications, stakeholder engagement, process improvement, and customer satisfaction. Her focus is on improving the performance of public power’s corporate culture, workforce issues, customer service, and community relations.

Steve VanderMeer, Senior Vice President of Planning and Marketing, Hometown Connections. Steve joined Hometown Connections 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 or complete the registration form.

Course Fees

Individual Course:
Members: $325
Nonmembers: $650

Certificate Program (5 courses):
Members: $2,200
Nonmembers: $4,400

Prices increase after Jan. 14

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

Beverage breaks are included in the registration fee. All meals are on your own.

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.

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 Jan. 28, 2019, are entitled to a refund of their registration fee, minus a $50 cancellation fee. Registrants who cancel after Jan. 28 will not receive a refund, but attendee substitutions will be allowed for this event only. Registrants and no-shows who do not cancel by Jan. 28 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].

The 2019 Winter Education Institute will take place at: 

Sheraton Grand Nashville Downtown
623 Union Street
Nashville, TN 37219

  • Main telephone: 615-259-2000
  • Group Rate: $225 Single/Double (plus tax)
  • Check-in: 3 p.m.
  • Check-out: 11:00 a.m.
  • Parking: Valet Parking: ($39/day)Self-Parking: ($35/day)
  • Internet Access: Complimentary wireless High-Speed Internet connection in sleeping rooms

Reservations

  • Reservation Cut-off Date:                January 14, 2019
  • Reservation Telephone:                   1-800-325-3535
  • Group Code:                                      APPA-2019 Winter Institute
  • Online Reservation Link:                 https://www.starwoodmeeting.com/Book/APPA2019WinterInstitute

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

The hotel is located about 10 miles from the Nashville International Airport (BNA). Please contact the hotel for transportation options.For directions and transportation options, contact the hotel directly.

Need Assistance?

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

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 Jan. 28, 2019, are entitled to a refund of their registration fee, minus a $50 cancellation fee. Registrants who cancel after Jan. 28, will not receive a refund, but attendee substitutions will be allowed for this event only. Registrants and no-shows who do not cancel by Jan. 28 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].

    Where and when is the next Institute?

    Spring Institute
    May 6-10, 2019
    Omaha Marriott Downtown at the Capitol District
    Omaha, Nebraska

    Fall Institute
    September 30 - October 4, 2019
    Hotel Contessa
    San Antonio, Texas

      More questions?

      Contact us at [email protected] or call 202-467-2976.