Planning for Another Challenging Year

Late last summer when the presidential campaign and subprime mortgages were top-of-mind issues for most Americans, the CS Week Executive Advisory Panel (EAP) recognized that a slowing of the economy they had detected would impact CS Week, as well.

These leaders in products and consulting services serving the meter-to-cash utility industry consciously added even more value, pertinence and immediacy to the content of the workshops they were suggesting to the CS Week board of directors.

Recognizing that a slowdown would pinch utilities’ travel and education budgets, CS Week had to give prospective attendees solid justification to attend–and even more to learn.

Next year also will require proven return for utilities to spend even scarcer education dollars. Our vendors benefited this year from the number of attendees who justified their trips visiting exhibitors as they searched for solutions.

Top speakers and meaningful presentations are the heart of every venue at CS Week. The annual Call for Presentations 2010 has gone out. We encourage each reader to consider speaking at CS Week next year in Nashville, Tenn.

Further information is available at Click on “Call for Presentations” on the home page.

CS Week has reconfigured the Customer Experience Lifecycle again to incorporate the significant changes in meter-to-cash and the larger utility world, this time adding a smart grid track.

The functionality and programs of energy efficiency and conservation are well incorporated under the smart grid functional track.

AMI and MDM remain distinct tracks in the meter-to-cash life cycle.

CS Week originated 34 years ago as CIS Conference and focused on customer billing and closely related functions. CS Week 2010 will mark our fourth year as a comprehensive educational forum serving the breadth of meter-to-cash utility services.

It is fascinating to watch the advent of new players in the smart metering environment. Who could have predicted that Google, Microsoft and Cisco Systems would extend their business services to gather information from end users to help consumers manage their energy usage and costs?

This was undreamed of as an option even two years ago. Consumers are not tied to utilities anymore for generation or utility management. Smart utilities, meters and homes are spreading as buildings and appliances become profoundly more efficient.

What is your utility doing to train customer service representatives (CSRs) for the ever-changing calls they receive? Do they have to transfer callers for answers, and what does that do to customer satisfaction?

As the frontline in utility customer service, they merit fresh training on these new questions and answers. The return on investment begins when CSRs don’t have to transfer calls but can answer customers’ questions.

Jerry Duvall, CEO, CS Week

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