By - Jon Brown

U.S. Credit & Collections 2018 Conference
June 25-26, 2018 | Chicago, IL

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Overview

There has never been a more crucial time for the utility sector to create strong partnerships with customers and collection agencies alike to build trust and protect vulnerable customers. Amid economic uncertainty and rising costs for day-to-day essentials, the average household is seeing an increase in its debt-to-income ratio.  Every year, utilities write off millions in bad debt caused by customers who don’t pay their electricity bills. Customers are getting more creative every day in avoiding paying outstanding utility debt, including trying to use a different name to establish new accounts, etc. Sound credit and collections practices are key for utilities to reduce bad debt and improve debt recovery in the customer revenue cycle.

How can the utility sector better identify vulnerable customers, work in partnership with them, strategically engage third parties and improve collections? EUCI’s 16th annual Credit & Collections conference will bring together forward-thinking credit, collections, billing and customer services professionals within the utility sector to answer these questions and more. This essential event offers utilities the opportunity to gauge industry benchmarks with best collection practices, providing a platform to look beyond and develop innovative new ways to ultimately eliminate bad debt.

Learning Outcomes

  • Discuss how to help motivate people and build high performing collection teams
  • Explain how the utility and telecom industries can profit from each other
  • Explain how to develop high balance collection techniques
  • Discuss the use of technology to advance and promote a pleasant customer experience
  • Review what utilities need to know and implement in order to be TCPA compliant
  • Discuss effective techniques for how utilities are working together to put a stop to scams.
  • Discuss how prepay improves customer satisfaction, promotes energy efficiency, and help control operational costs
  • Review how offering a new service model using face-to-face interactions with remote customers has helped lower their bills and improve credit & collections

Credits

AP_Logo

EUCI has been accredited as an Authorized Provider by the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET).  In obtaining this accreditation, EUCI has demonstrated that it  complies with the ANSI/IACET Standard which is recognized internationally as a standard of good practice. As a result of their Authorized Provider status, EUCI is authorized to offer IACET CEUs for its programs that qualify under the ANSI/IACET Standard.

EUCI is authorized by IACET to offer 1.0 CEUs for this event.

 

Requirements for Successful Completion of Program

Participants must sign in/out each day and be in attendance for the entirety of the course to be eligible for continuing education credit.

Instructional Methods

This program will include case studies, panel discussions and PowerPoint presentations.

Agenda

Monday, June 25, 2018

8:00 – 8:30 a.m. :: Registration and Continental Breakfast

8:30 – 8:45 a.m. :: Welcome Announcements


8:45 – 9:30 a.m. :: Successfully Managing In-House Credit and Collection Operations

This presentation will cover proven methods to successfully developing world-class credit and collection operations.  Ten important keys to success will be covered: great management, maximizing your most important resource – people, working with business partners, measuring performance, justifying resources, marketing your services, commitment to quality, redundancy/back-up, continuous learning & improvement, and the 3 “Ps” approach to world class operations. Proven and practical techniques from successful in-house operations will be shared. 

Wes Friesen, Manager – Billing, Payments & Credit, Portland General Electric (ret’d) and President, Solomon Training & Development


9:30 – 10:15 a.m. :: Collections: Weathering the Storm in the US Virgin Islands

In September 2017, the U.S. Virgin Islands were impacted by a pair of catastrophic and devastating hurricanes.  Since the passage of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, the territory — under a presidential-declared disaster — worked to recover, restore and rebuild. This recovery included the Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority (VIWPA), the territory’s only public utility provider of electricity and potable water.  In addition to the challenges of rebuilding a transmission and distribution system from levels of 95% decimation, there was an imminent need to return to some level of normalcy.  One step in that direction was the resumption of collections from the utility’s customers under difficult and trying times.  In the subsequent post-storm period, collections have presented multiple challenges, but the Authority has persevered in improving the customer service experience.  In this session, attendees will get a closer look at the strategies and initiatives of the VIWPA to: 

  • Assist collectors with collection calls
  • Develop high balance collection techniques
  • Address collections in difficult economic times
  • Use technology to advance and promote a pleasant customer experience

Danielle Cranston, Collections Manager, US Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority

10:15 – 10:45 a.m. :: Networking Break


10:45 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. :: Getting Control of Utility Payment Scams

Utilities across the country are dealing with customers that have been victimized by payment scams.  Imposters spoof utility phone numbers, pose as utility employees, and target certain customer groups.   Unfortunately, their savviness is paying off.  Millions of dollars are lost to these scam operations.  However, more roadblocks are being placed in their way.  This session will detail some of the current scams out there.  It will also discuss how IREA, along with many other utilities, is working to put a stop to scams.

Mandi Lesher, Consumer Services Manager, Intermountain Rural Electric Association


11:30 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. :: The Problem with Traditional Security Deposits for Utilities

This presentation will address the current state of Security Deposits in the utility industry, including:

  • The purpose of Traditional Security Deposits
  • The pros and cons of Traditional Security Deposits
  •  Discussion of currently available alternatives to security deposits (such as letters of credit, or surety bonds) and the pros and cons of each

Michael Thomas, Marketing Analyst, Champion Energy Services

Steve Shelton, Chief Operating Officer, Deposit Alternatives, LLC

12:15 – 1:15 p.m. :: Group Luncheon


1:15 – 2:00 p.m. :: The Next Generation of Prepay at Salt River Project

SRP’s “M-Power” program has evolved into North America’s largest electric prepay deployment. Experience and data show M-Power customers are very satisfied with the program, promote energy efficiency, and help SRP control operational costs. The Phoenix utility is deploying the next generation of smart meters that will allow prepay to grow and evolve with changing technology, including moving to a token-less infrastructure and creating a dedicated M-Power app.

Carisa Woolstenhulme, Manager – SRP Customer Credit Services, Salt River Project


2:00 – 2:45 p.m. :: First Nations Collections

Hydro One owns and operates transmission assets on 24 First Nation reserves and provides distribution services directly to 88 First Nations communities. For the past three years, Hydro One has been successfully offering a new service model to several Ontario First Nation communities that focus on in-community, face-to-face interactions and ensuring customers understand and access all the available programs.  This session will showcase Hydro One experiences to remote First Nations service territories around the province to continue to improve relationships with customers, thereby helping community members lower their bills and improve credit and collections.

Cesar Martinez, Manager – Customer Care, Hydro One

2:45 – 3:15 p.m. :: Networking Break


3:15 – 4:00 p.m. :: Remaining Positive in a Negative Customer Environment

It is hard for utility customer service staff to remain positive during these interesting economic times. The calls that staff must deal with are much different and more difficult today than they were even just one to two years ago. In this session, attendees will observe some of the methods and techniques Canadian Niagara Power has developed for supporting staff to maintain their positive outlook.

Courtney Bonito, Customer Service Supervisor, Canadian Niagara Power


4:00 – 5:00 p.m. :: Vendor Panel Discussion: Improve Agency Management Strategy for Optimal Collection Recovery Rates

In this session, a panel of industry experts will discuss ways to improve the utility’s agency management strategies. The panelists will discuss what they see as the critical components and challenges for utilities based on their valuable experience and information obtained through their customers’ feedback.

John Kim, EVP/Principal, SinglePoint Group International

Watse Krol, Chief Operating Officer, Virtuoso Sourcing Group, LLC

Toney Fedullo, Manager, National Recovery Agency

5:00 – 6:00 p.m. :: Networking Reception


Tuesday, June 26, 2018

8:00 – 8:30 a.m. :: Continental Breakfast


8:30 – 9:15 a.m. :: Reducing Pain Points and Effort to Increase Customer Satisfaction at Tucson Electric Power (TEP)

This session will review how Tucson Electric Power integrates a variety of customer experience research methods to obtain a holistic view of customer interactions, identify customer “pain points”, validate service improvements and lift customer satisfaction. Attendees will hear how journey mapping, customer panels, tracking surveys and cross-functional teams work together to benefit the customer and the company.

John Bord, Manager – Customer Experience, Tucson Electric Power


9:15 – 10:00 a.m. :: Billing Communications: High Bill, Paperless Billing and Humanizing Your Brand for Low Income Customers

Join us for this discussion highlighting how utilities can utilize high bill and paperless billing promotions to help improve collections. We’ll talk gift cards, cash incentives of varying levels, light bulb and ticket giveaways, opt-out conversion campaigns and more. Learn what worked, what didn’t garner the attention anticipated, how behavioral marketing can be leveraged, and recommendations for utilities charting a similar course. Then, get useful tips for  ways to humanize your utility’s brand for the low income customer.

Jill Bryan, Director of Marketing, Questline

10:00 – 10:15 a.m. :: Morning Break


10:15 – 11:00 a.m. :: Turning TCPA Lemons into Enterprise Lemonade

While the TCPA is often a thorn in the side of most utilities, it’s impact can have unintended benefits that often outweigh the negatives. Hear how utilities are managing TCPA reassigned phone risks while also seeing benefits such as increased customer satisfaction scores, lower call center costs, less disconnects for non-payment and increased IVR containment rates.

Chris Clark, Director – Fraud, Risk and Compliance, Neustar


11:00 – 11:45 a.m. :: Utility Panel Discussion

This panel discussion will feature experts from several utilities discussing what is being done or considered to improve credit and collections practices. This interactive panel will respond to inquiries from the moderator and audience on how to help streamline the collections process.

Moderator:

Wes Friesen, Manager – Billing, Payments & Credit, Portland General Electric (ret’d) and President, Solomon Training & Development

Panelists:

Mandi Lesher, Consumer Services Manager, Intermountain Rural Electric Association

Cesar Martinez, Manager – Customer Care, Hydro One

Danielle Cranston, Collections Manager, US Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority

11:45 a.m. :: Conference Adjourns

Workshop

Building High Performance Credit & Collection Teams!

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

12:30 – 1:00 p.m. :: Registration

1:00 – 4:30 p.m. :: Workshop Timing

Overview

Building teams that perform at consistently high levels benefits all key stakeholders—but can be challenging in today’s utility industry. A team will only achieve its fullest potential when people are engaged and inspired to do their best work. Research shows highly engaged employees on average are 50% more likely to exceed expectations than the least engaged workers. Companies with highly engaged people outperform organizations with the most disengaged workers— by 54% in employee retention, 89% in customer satisfaction and by nearly 2 to 1 in financial performance.

How do we create great workplaces that maximize our team’s engagement and potential – and the potential of the larger organization? In this workshop, the instructor will be sharing the latest research and practical ideas to help motivate people and build teams that are high performing! Attendees will walk way inspired and equipped to lead your team to an even higher level of success.

Learning Outcomes

After this workshop, attendees will understand and be able to use:

  • The 3 Characteristics of High Performance Teams
  • 7 Key Needs that Motivate People
  • Top 10 Motivators for Workers
  • The magical 5 to 1 Ratio
  • 15 Imperatives for Building a Great Workplace
  • 20 Ways to Retain Your Best Employees
  • The 12 questions “Measuring Stick”
  • And more practical tools!

Agenda

Powerful Lessons to Help You Lead and Develop High Performing Teams

Wes Friesen has written a book called “Your Team Can Soar! Powerful Lessons to Help You Lead and Develop High Performing Teams”, and will share highlights from the book. In this section of the workshop, we will explore:

  • The latest research
  • Tapping into the wisdom from a variety of experts
  • Gaining a better understanding of how to help motivate people
  • How to build teams that are high performing!

Keys to Building Great Workplaces

In this section of the workshop, we will explore:

  • How to create great workplaces that maximize employee engagement
  • How to create great workplaces that maximize employee and potential – and the potential of the larger organization
  • Discuss the 15 imperatives to build great work places
  • How to inspire your teams and help them achieve their fullest potential

Instructor

Wes Friesen
President – Solomon Training & Development; University Instructor; Portland General Electric – Manager: Billing, Payments & Credit (retired), (MBA, CCE, CBF, CBA, CMA, CFM, CTP, CMDSM, MCOM, MDC, EMCM, ICP, CM, APP, PHR)

Mr. Friesen is a proven leader and developer of high performing teams. He managed at Portland General Electric for 37 years where his teams were noted for high performance and earned multiple awards and national recognitions. He is also an award-winning University Instructor and Conference Speaker—and is the President of Solomon Training and Development, which provides leadership, management and team building training. He writes for business trade journals, including a management column for Mailing Systems and Technology. His book, Your Team Can Soar! Powerful Lessons to Help You Lead, and Develop High Performing Teams has 42 valuable lessons that will inspire you, and give you practical pointers to help you—and your team—soar to new heights of performance. Mr. Friesen earned his B.S. in Business Administration from George Fox University and his MBA from the University of Portland. He also sits on several non-profit boards.

Speakers

Courtney Bonito, Customer Service Supervisor, Canadian Niagara Power

John Bord, Manager – Customer Experience, Tucson Electric Power

Chris Clark, Director – Fraud, Risk and Compliance, Neustar

Danielle Cranston, Collections Manager, US Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority

Wes Friesen, Manager – Billing, Payments & Credit, Portland General Electric (ret’d) and President, Solomon Training & Development

John Kim, EVP/Principal, SinglePoint Group International

Watse Krol, Chief Operating Officer, Virtuoso Sourcing Group, LLC

Steve Kusic, CEO, National Recovery Agency

Mandi Lesher, Consumer Services Manager, Intermountain Rural Electric Association

Peter Manianis, Vendor Manager – 3rd Party Collection Agencies, TELUS

Cesar Martinez, Manager – Customer Care, Hydro One

Michael Thomas, Marketing Analyst, Champion Energy Services

Carisa Woolstenhulme, Manager – SRP Customer Credit Services, Salt River Project

Location

Millennium Knickerbocker Hotel
163 E Walton Pl
Chicago, IL 60611

To reserve your room, please call 1-800-621-8140
Please indicate that you are with the EUCI group to receive the group rate.

Click here to book online

 

Room Rate:

The room rate is $229 single or double plus applicable taxes.

Room Block Dates:

A room block has been reserved for the nights of June 24 – 25, 2018.

Rate Available Until:

Make your reservations prior to June 11, 2018. There are a limited number of rooms available at the conference rate. Please make your reservations early.

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