Utilities to streamline communication efforts
By Dave Thomas
Whether it is an ordinary day in the communities they serve or a day where weather and other unforeseen incidents are causing mayhem and havoc, utility companies are best served when they are able to streamline their communication efforts.
As more utility providers are discovering, not only does streamlining communications make it easier to serve customers, but it also can reduce the company’s overall expenditures over time.
Options abound for providers
Although there are a number of options available to utility companies when it comes to communications, most are best served finding a provider that can meet a variety of needs, namely solid tech support, a reasonable price, and equipment that staff can easily be trained on, including when upgrades are necessary.
Given phone communications are essential to having direct contact with customers; working with the best phone system should be a top priority for utility companies.
From Megapath PBX to a variety of other options, utilities should review the following when choosing a hosted PBX phone system.
Among the factors to look at:
1. Cost – Sure, any utility provider wants to save money, but careful what you wish for. As most businesses and customers for that matter know, you essentially get what you pay for. With that in mind, check to see if you will be required to purchase or lease PBX equipment (see below) when moving to a hosted PBX phone system. Also read the fine print of any contracts you are expected to sign. At the end of the day, your contact center is the lifeblood of your operation, so look to lower your expenses while still meeting the needs of customers;
2. Equipment – Another item to research is the equipment you may or may not need to use. There are instances where you could require new phones, not to mention a voice gateway among other items. Depending on your equipment needs, how easily trainable will your employees (especially newer ones) be with it? Also make sure the provider offers equipment for your mobile and virtual workers outside the an office call center;
3. Customer service – Last but not least, the provider’s customer service record should never be taken for granted. As all utility companies know, emergencies can happen 24/7. When utilities must communicate with customers to answer their questions and oftentimes calm their fears, having a trusted phone system is critical. Before investing time and money in a system, get as much background information as you can on the provider’s customer service record. If it leaves something to be desired, step away from them.
Mergers can mean changes in how you communicate
Keep in mind as a utility provider that changes to your company ownership can happen sooner than you might expect.
According to a January PricewaterhouseCoopers report, Q4 of 2013 witnessed an increase in both the volume and value of power and utility industry merger and acquisition deals surpassing $50 million. The fourth quarter witnessed 14 deals that compared to a dozen in Q3 2013.
With mergers and other alterations to company ownership, what may have worked in the past as it relates to customer service may not be useful now.
By offering both your employees and customers the latest in communication services, you can improve the odds of being that shining light that the public turns to for years to come.
About the author: Dave Thomas covers a wide array of subjects, among which include marketing, small business, and technology.
UK Nissan fleet owners receive commercial charging service
UK fleet owners of Nissan Leaf and e-NV200 models can avail of a new commercial charging service using vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology.
The V2G technology developed by DREEV, which is a joint venture between EDF and Nuvve, which specialises in V2G technology, allows for two-way energy flow; both recharging an EV’s battery when electricity is at its cheapest, and discharging excess energy to sell back into the grid.
Fleet customers will save around £350 savings per charger each year, which equates to approximately 9,000 miles of driving charge per year.
EDF’s V2G business solution includes:
The supply and installation of a two-way connected compact 11kW charger capable of fully charging a Nissan LEAF, depending on the battery model, in 3 hours and 30 minutes - 50 per cent faster than a standard charger - with integrated DREEV technology.
A dedicated DREEV smart phone app, to define the vehicles’ driving energy requirements, track their state of charge in real time, and control charging at any time
Philip Valarino, Interim Head of EV Projects at EDF, said today’s announcement marks an important step on the UK’s journey towards electric mobility. "By combining the expertise and capabilities of EDF, Nissan and Dreev we have produced a solution that could transform the EV market as we look to help the UK in its journey to achieve Net Zero," he said. “Our hope is that forward-thinking businesses across the country will be persuaded to convert their traditional fleets to electric, providing them with both an environmental and economic advantage in an increasingly crowded market.”
Andrew Humberstone, Managing Director, NMGB, said Nissan has been a pioneer in 100% electric mobility since 2010, and the integration of electric vehicles into the company is at the heart of Nissan's vision for intelligent mobility.
He added the Nissan LEAF, with more than half a million units already sold worldwide - is the only model today to allow V2G two-way charging and offers economic opportunities for businesses "that no other electric vehicle does today". Click here for more information.
FirstEnergy Corp, which aims to electrify 30% of its approximately 3,400 light duty and aerial fleet vehicles by 2030, has joined the Electric Highway Coalition. The group of electric companies, which has grown to 14 members, is committed to enabling long-distance EV travel through a network of EV fast-charging stations connecting major highway systems.
The Edison Electric Institute estimates 18 million EVs will be on US roads by 2030. While many drivers recognize the benefits of driving an EV, some are concerned with the availability of charging stations during long road trips. Through their unified efforts, the members of the EHC are addressing this "range anxiety" and demonstrating to customers that EVs are a smart choice for traveling long distances as well as driving around town.
Volta Industries has installed new charging stations at Safeway in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, and Renton, Washington.