Customer service professionals from more than 250 utilities gathered in San Antonio in May for the 32nd annual CS Week Conference. This was the first year of the conference’s expanded workshop “footprint” that added new topic offerings, and judging by the enthusiastic response, it was a complete success.
Dancers entertain party-goers at CS Week’s special event in La Villita, San Antonio. Photo courtesy of CS Week Conference.
With “from meter-to-cash” as its new motto, CS Week didn’t disappoint the 1,500 conference-goers who attended top-notch educational events and exchanged new ideas in forums, synergy groups, conference sessions and at the CS Week College. They absorbed practical advice from utility professionals, consultants and vendors–and enjoyed a variety of networking opportunities in a beautiful city.
In his keynote address, CS Week CEO Jerry Duvall said there were more than 100 workshop speakers this year and record attendance at the Executive Summit–more than 70 CIS executives came to the invitation-only colloquium.
“CS Week attendees are keenly interested in all the changes in this industry,” said 2008 CS Week Chairperson Penni McClean-Conner, vice president of customer service at NSTAR. She noted that the Women in Utilities reception, now it its second year, was attended by 180 women, proving once again the attraction of networking.
Of speakers, sessions and summits
CS Week conference-goers were welcomed to the city by the deputy general manager of CPS Energy, the electric and gas utility that serves San Antonio. Steve Bartley explained that CPS is the nation’s largest municipal electric and gas utility and provides one fifth of the city’s revenues–$260 million last year. CPS works hard to provide excellent customer service and reasonable rates to its customers, said Bartley, who noted that the utility is a catalyst for economic development in communities that seek growth. Texas’ growth exceeds the national average and San Antonio’s exceeds that, he said.
CS Week’s keynote speakers were riveting as always, whether funny like the entertaining Toody Byrd, a wise and witty Texas humorist, or thought-provoking, like Henry Cisneros, ex-mayor of San Antonio and former HUD secretary. Cisneros described the new directions society is taking in the U.S., shaped by globalization, demographics and technology.
Workshops covered nine areas this year, expanded to meet the educational needs of the electric, water and gas utilities the conference has been serving for 32 years: advanced metering infrastructure, meter data management, billing, customer contact center, payments, credit and collections, field customer service, and strategies and management.
One of the most popular CS Week Conference presenters is Greg Galuzzi, president of TMG Consulting. This year, Galuzzi addressed trends in the CIS market and reviewed a number of CIS installations for a standing-room-only crowd. He shared his market research on many topics, including ongoing IT costs, project installation timeframes and why CIS projects fail.
The CS Week Executive Summit, now in its fifth year, brought utility senior CIS and I/T managers and executives together to discuss a variety of issues. Dynamic discussions on topics like credit and arrears and the challenges of employing a multi-generational workforce yielded new concepts and information. The AMI/MDM panel discussion, a “shootout,” was refreshing and provocative, a fine example of the stimulating intellectual discussion the Executive Summit aims to provide.
CS Week College courses and CS Week Synergy group meetings rounded out the conference offerings.
One of the high points of the event was the announcement of the winners of the Expanding Excellence Awards for outstanding achievements in customer service. All of the Expanding Excellence Award winners provided in-depth descriptions of their projects at conference workshops.
New fall conference announced
Expanding once again, CS Week is introducing a new conference, designed for CIS professionals who would like to avail themselves of the high quality workshops CS Week provides but who cannot attend the annuual conference. CS Week Fall will be held at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare from Sept. 30 to Oct. 1. For more information on the new conference, visit www.csweek.org/fall.