Cracker Jack Moments – The Duke Energy Story

cracker jack

by Penni McLean-Conner, Eversource Energy

This is the final article in the Cracker Jack moment series. During the past few months, I have explored how utilities are delivering Crack Jack moments to customers.

Chip Bell describes the Cracker Jack Principle in his latest book, “The 9 ½ Principles of Innovative Service” published by Simple Truths in 2013.

“Service with surprise is like a box of Cracker Jack “. Surprise breaks the monotony of ho-hum, communicates a caring attitude, and fosters an infectious spirit that customers cannot wait to narrate to others,” he writes.

This article features Cracker Jack moments that Duke Energy customers are experiencing.

Duke Energy Senior Vice President of Customer Services Gayle Lanier described these moments at the 2014 CS Week Executive Summit.

Lanier highlighted three areas in which Duke Energy is providing customers with a surprise: energy efficiency initiatives, water heater repair service and outdoor lighting solutions.

Energy Efficiency Initiatives

Duke is providing residential and business customers with a comprehensive solution set regarding energy efficiency.

The offerings range from products to enhanced information, all with the goal of helping customers manage their energy use.

To raise awareness in the residential space, Duke Energy distributed free compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs), along with offering a suite of EnergyStar-certified CFL and LED bulbs.

Customers are saving money, helping the environment and enjoying the convenience of bulbs’ being delivered right to their doors.

Since the offer began in 2009, Duke Energy has distributed more than 46 million CFL bulbs.

This program alone has saved enough electricity to power more than 144,000 homes.

In addition, Duke is offering customers personalized home energy reports.

These reports provide customers with their energy use compared with average and efficient homes, along with actionable energy efficiency tips.

More than 2.5 million Duke Energy customers are participating in this program.

For business customers, Duke is offering a free business energy assessment.

The program is called the Small Business Energy Saver Program, and it’s offered to businesses whether they rent or own.

Water Heater Repair Service

Duke Energy also is providing customers with value-added services. The water heater program offers customers peace of mind. For $5.99 per month, customers have access to a 24-hour repair service hotline and the knowledge that local, licensed and insured technicians are only a phone call away.

What makes this program really work is that Duke Energy is ensuring that customers who call for service receive high-quality interaction. Technicians are professional, courteous and efficient. Of course, the zero-dollar deductible and one-year guarantee on covered repairs also enhance the entire offering.

Outdoor Lighting Solutions

Duke Energy always has promoted outdoor lighting solutions to its customers. But with the advent of LEDs into the marketplace, commercial outdoor lighting has taken off.

Duke Energy is offering business customers complete turnkey outdoor lighting that is enhanced with worry-free maintenance. Business customers like that Duke Energy provides the turnkey solution of developing the lighting plan, completing the installation and providing maintenance when needed.

One customer said, “The power company does it all “. They bring the plan, they do the installation and then they manage it all.”

Customer Compliments

The theme of customers’ narrating their experiences to others was prevalent in all of the Cracker Jack moments shared by Duke Energy, San Diego Gas & Electric and Con Edison. Customers documented their positive experiences and shared them with others, most often via social media.

As I close this series on Cracker Jack moments, I challenge customer service organizations to capture and mine customer compliments in a similar rigorous fashion that one mines customer complaints.

From the compliments, you can learn what made the experiences memorable.

And if you understand those attributes, you can build them into your processes and create even more Cracker Jack moments for your customers.


Penni McLean-Conner is the chief customer officer at Eversource Energy, the largest energy delivery company in New England. A registered professional engineer, McLean-Conner is active it the utility industry and serves on several boards of directors including CS Week and the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy. Her Latest book, “Energy Efficiency: Principles and Practices,” is available at Reach her at

More Electric Light & Power Current Issue Articles
More Electric Light & Power Archives Issue Articles

Previous articleSMUD selects Opower’s customer engagement platform
Next articleNextEra Energy announces CFO transition plan
The Clarion Energy Content Team is made up of editors from various publications, including POWERGRID International, Power Engineering, Renewable Energy World, Hydro Review, Smart Energy International, and Power Engineering International. Contact the content lead for this publication at

No posts to display