There's not an electric cooperative in the world that hasn't fielded member calls about high bills. But what if you could warn folks ahead of time?

New research finds they'd be mighty interested in hearing from you.

For its 2016-2017 National Survey on the Cooperative Difference, Touchstone Energy® Cooperatives asked consumers to rate their interest in getting a high bill alert when increases in their usage cannot be explained by the weather.

"Forty-three percent of our members raised their hands as high as they could. They gave us a 10 out of 10 and said 'Sign me up,'" said Tom Laing, vice president of research and member insights at TSE Services, which conducted the survey.

"And if we add the eights, nines and tens together, 60 percent of our members are positively inclined to take advantage of such a service."

Laing urged co-ops to take notice—and take action.

"It's a very strong result. It represents a huge opportunity for us, particularly when we think about how it reinforces those drivers of member engagement—saving energy, demonstrating that we have a goal of low cost. Nothing demonstrates that better than calling a member when we think they're heading for a high bill," said Laing.

As for how consumers want to receive that notification, their inbox tops the list with 37 percent saying email. Text messages were right behind at 25 percent, tied with phone calls.

"Multi-media channels are here to stay," said Laing. "We need to be leveraging all of them to make sure that we're finding members where they want us to find them."

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