Electrifyingly Good

Posted: October 1, 2020 at 7:00 am

Wiregrass Electric maintains high member satisfaction rating.

Member Services Representative / Lead Cashier Teresa Womack, left, assists members Randy Morrison, right, and Rebecca Marshall at Wiregrass Electric Cooperative’s Ashford office.

The motto “Just Enough Isn’t Enough” embodies Wiregrass Electric Cooperative’s (WECs) commitment to improving its operations and its relationships with members and their communities.

A recent member satisfaction survey revealed the fruit of that dedication as WEC continued to receive high scores and to make gains in a variety of categories. More than 330 members took the online survey in early spring and rated the cooperative on a variety of factors, including trustworthiness, overall management, and level of care for its members.

WEC averaged a score of 9 out of 10 in those categories.

“At Wiregrass Electric, we’re always evaluating our operations in an effort to make improvements,” says Brad Kimbro, WEC’s chief operating officer. “We aim to make doing business with us as pleasurable as possible and our service as reliable as possible — all while doing that as efficiently as possible.”

Maintaining High Marks

Members continue to love the reliability of WEC’s service. Just like in 2018, 94% of respondents gave WEC high marks for reliability, and 92% said WEC restores outages quickly.

Charlie Daugherty in a warehouse.
Charlie Daugherty is one of the employees who ensures WEC’s warehouse is stocked and orderly, expediting response to any service issues members may encounter.

Of the survey respondents that shared specific comments, nearly a third of them specifically praised the service and/or outage response time. This reflects the training, knowledge, and dedication of WEC’s linemen.

“We appreciate the hard work of the line crews and the speed with which they always try to restore power,” one respondent commented.

“Hats off to the employees out in the field working to keep power on, even in the worst possible weather,” wrote another.

The reliable service also reflects WEC’s investment in technology, equipment, and materials that protect and strengthen the power grid. WEC utilizes a four-year work plan that helps the cooperative maintain and upgrade the grid.

A couple of members noted they have never lost power while on WEC’s system. “You guys are electrifyingly good,” one respondent said.

Making Improvements

Jennifer Ward serves as WEC’s manager of communications and public relations, ensuring members know of the many tools the cooperative provides to improve their lives.

WEC registered significant gains in several categories. In the member services category, 93% of members stated WEC communicates effectively, a 6% gain when compared to a 2018 survey.

“Our communications efforts are multifaceted, and we’ve honed those over the years,” Kimbro says. “Between the My Hometown Power bill inserts, the Alabama Living magazines, and our multiple social media platforms, we have many ways to interact with and inform our members.”

WEC also made a large gain in the “easy to do business with” category, jumping from 90% to 93%. A higher percentage of members were also pleased with employees’ knowledge and courteousness than in 2018.

“Our highly trained member services representatives always stay abreast of available programs that can assist our members in many ways,” says Rhonda Webb, WEC member services manager. “They are always ready to assist and are empowered to lend a helping hand.”

Other improvements WEC recorded occurred in support for renewable energy, management, commitment to the community, and level of care.

Broader View

Member service representatives like Samantha Brown can address a wide array of requests from WEC members.

The survey, which uses the Cooperative Attitude and Performance Score system developed by Inside Information, compares cooperatives to national results.

Wiregrass’ overall score of 90 ranks higher than the national average and registers among the top scores registered by the 89 cooperatives of comparable size. The tally also matches the aggregate average tallied by PowerSouth Energy Cooperative members.

While documenting where WEC performs well, the survey also helps the cooperative identify areas where it can continue to make improvements.

“While we didn’t score poorly on any aspect, surveys like these help our employees celebrate the performance gains we have made over time while also providing new goals to obtain,” says Les Moreland, WEC CEO. “Surveys help us direct resources and efforts as we endeavor to model Just Enough Isn’t Enough daily. Our is to have a cooperative that continually improves.”


Tracking Just Enough Isn't Enough

Statistical improvements between Wiregrass Electric Cooperative’s 2018 and 2020 member satisfaction surveys:

Member Services

  • Communicates effectively: 93%, up 6%
  • Easy to do business with: 93%, up 3%
  • Knowledgeable: 94%, up 1%
  • Friendly service: 93%, up 1%

Overall

  • Good value: up 3%

Cooperative Culture

  • Supports renewable energy: up 12%
  • Well managed: 89%, up 2%
  • Community commitment: 88%, up 1%
  • Truly cares: 86%, up 1%

Delivering More Than Electricity

From left, linemen Mark Dillard, Johnny Hudson, Britt Caldwell, and Tyler Driskell work on an underground transformer in a west Dothan subdivision.

If the latest member satisfaction survey reveals anything, it’s that Wiregrass Electric Cooperative’s partnership with Troy Cable to bring broadband internet services to the region is much needed.

Eighty percent of respondents deemed high-speed internet as “absolutely necessary.” Additionally, 17 of the 67 comments members posted on the survey discussed internet service options or performance.

“Get us Troy Cable ASAP! Where I live is a dead area,” one respondent wrote. “Internet service in 2020 shouldn’t be this antiquated!! It’s crippling not to have sufficient internet service!”

“I am patiently waiting and hopeful that Wiregrass Electric will bring high-speed internet to my home,” another survey respondent said. “This has been a long-awaited service I would readily commit to.”

In 2018, Wiregrass Electric launched the Broadband for the Wiregrass partnership with Troy Cable to help ease those concerns. As Troy Cable connects all of WEC’s substations to fiber, it allows the company to offer broadband services to WEC members with access to those lines.

Additionally, the partnership is seeking state and federal grants to further the impact on the region.
It has secured two state grants, meaning the partnership will provide at least 7,500 members access to high-speed internet — most of them for the very first time.

“High-speed internet is essential for strong performances in education, business, agriculture, health care, and other quality of life factors,” says Brad Kimbro, WEC chief operating officer. “We have a mandate to help provide these services to our members.”