This month's question: What value does your co-op get from regularly surveying your members?

Answer: At Golden Valley Electric Association, we provide service to over 35,000 members in Interior Alaska. As a cooperative that is responsible for generation, transmission and distribution across 6,000 square miles of territory, we rely on survey data to explore member views and track changes in attitudes and behaviors. It is our responsibility to represent the collective best interest of our members, but opinions and priorities can vary greatly. Since we cover such a large area, with diverse communities and both rural and urban populations, it’s important that we have reliable data that reflects the priorities and concerns of our membership as a whole. This is where our annual member survey comes in. It’s our yearly check-in with members and our opportunity to hear directly from them. Survey responses are used to guide our communication strategy, member education, messaging and allocation of resources. Each year we come back to our communication strategy, we look at our goals, what we accomplished and the survey data. We then set, or adapt, our goals and tactics. We focus messaging to address areas that are most important to our members. Like everyone else, we have more demands than resources. Survey data helps us to be responsible fiscal stewards by allocating time and money to priority areas that have the greatest impact.

Answer: At Holy Cross Energy, we believe in measuring what matters. To that end, we have established several key performance indicators across all areas of our business. As most utilities do, we monitor SAIDI, SAIFI, OTIER, ECA, DART and TCR along with many other electric co-op acronyms. Therefore, it just makes sense that we measure our ACSI (American Customer Satisfaction Indicator) and program participation numbers to gauge our members’ engagement and overall satisfaction with us. By doing this every year, we can monitor our members’ progress toward increased engagement and loyalty to us. Regularly surveying our members also allows us to find out quickly if there are things that are not popular, things they are not interested in, or if any decisions we have made have negative impacts on them. As a co-op, we believe it is incredibly important to listen to our members, but it just makes good business sense as well. Since we began surveying our members, our satisfaction scores have gone up each year. We have gained critical information about our members’ interest in renewables, concerns about energy costs, and the importance of real human beings answering our phones. These insights have enabled us to make informed business decisions for our responsible transition to a clean energy future.

Answer: Serving our members is at the core of Palmetto Electric’s mission and purpose. For more than 80 years, we have been meeting the needs of our members by providing reliable and affordable electricity, implementing new technology and developing consumer-oriented programs. We are always looking for ways to better serve and improve the lives of our members, and in order to do this successfully, we know we must be aware of their needs, desires and overall satisfaction with the cooperative. Each year, we conduct a survey of our residential members to assess their overall satisfaction, examine their awareness of programs and services offered by Palmetto Electric, provide demographics of our residential membership base and compare our results with other cooperatives and utilities nationwide. The results of this survey provide a benchmark for us to grow and improve. The needs of our members, partnered with our core values of accountability, community involvement, innovation and integrity, guide our strategic planning and decision making. The valuable feedback and data from this yearly survey shows us where we should focus our efforts in the coming year to best serve our members. In my eyes, the value of knowing our members’ feelings toward the cooperative is priceless and critical to our success.

Answer: Coast Electric believes surveying our membership on a regular basis is key to providing the best service possible. We not only survey our members once a year, but we also conduct quality-monitoring surveys monthly to analyze data trends that could improve overall satisfaction at our cooperative. Telephone and online surveys provide a wealth of information that help us learn about our members’ opinions on the way we conduct business and what service attributes contribute to their overall satisfaction. We take pride in our survey ratings, especially the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) score we receive each year as part of our yearly member satisfaction survey. In 2021 we received an 89, which places us in the highest scoring among businesses nationwide. Our ACSI score has consistently improved since 2013, and we’ve been able to measure the score yearly through survey data. Market research results help our board of directors and executive team as we develop work plans and strategic initiatives for the future of Coast Electric. We implement a new strategic plan every three years, and survey data helps determine what priorities need to be included in our planning. Additionally, survey information helps leadership create and evaluate appropriate programs and services for our members based on survey ratings or qualitative feedback. At Coast Electric, we strive to exceed expectations. We want to provide superior member service and evaluate our business operations for opportunities to improve. Market research helps us to achieve these goals and always stay in touch with our members.