North American Credit & Collections Conference for Utilities

North American Credit & Collections Conference for Utilities

July 21-22, 2022 | Vancouver, BC

“I found this conference very beneficial! Best 1.5 days of learning to date!” – Group 2 Supervisor – Credit & Recovery Services, Manitoba Hydro

“Great conference, hosts, and presentations.” – Manager, Credit & Collections, Puget Sound Energy

“My first EUCI Collections Conference; not my last. Great participation, deep knowledge/insight, broad spectrum of topics, caliber of speakers excellent. Would recommend to others. Great way to learn, collaborate, share best practices, and network.” – Supervisor/Collection, New Brunswick Power

“Great understanding all utilities challenges, and how they deal with them. Great networking and connecting with new people where I found helped in being able to call them throughout the year.” – Collections Manager, Enbridge

More than two years after the coronavirus pandemic began, customers continue to struggle paying their past due balances at a much higher rate than pre-pandemic times. As a result, utilities across north America and the world are still facing a revenue crunch. With overdue debt continuing to rise, there is an increasing need for utilities to use appropriate and timely resources to minimize costs. Bad debt was already expensive to collect in a pre-pandemic world with relatively modest balances and the potential for long settlement periods. Given ongoing economic challenges, collections teams will have to compete even harder for payment, further increasing the cost to collect bad debt.

Join us at this annual credit and collections conference hosted at BC Hydro’s offices in beautiful Vancouver, BC. This conference will bring together forward-thinking credit, collections, billing, and customer services professionals within the utility sector from across North America. This event had never been more important as it offers attendees the opportunity to gauge industry benchmarks with best practices. The conference will provide a platform to look beyond fundamental concepts and develop innovative new ways to eliminate bad debt and increase revenues.

Learning Outcomes

  • Discuss various decisions made by utilities because of the pandemic
  • Examine methods to improve collection results by improving the customer experience
  • Review bill relief measures to support customer’s bill payment efforts
  • Discuss how to leverage data to improve collections
  • Explain how leveraging technology improves collections and customer service
  • Discuss a billing system conversion with collections during a pandemic
  • Explore how a telecom culture can help collections in the utility industry
  • Discuss how implementing a variety of delinquency initiatives to engage customer participation helped the payment process

Agenda

Thursday, July 21, 2022

8:15 – 8:45 a.m.
Registration and Continental Breakfast

12:15 – 1:15 p.m.
Group Lunch

8:45 a.m. – 4:45 p.m.
Conference Timing

 

8:45 – 9:00 a.m. :: Opening Announcements

9:00 – 9:15 a.m. :: Setting the Stage

This session will set the context, themes, and participatory discussion tone for the conference. Conference chair, Peter Sorrentino will present current trends in the market as it relates to credit & collections in the utility industry. Attendees will be invited to provide input regarding key discussion interests to highlight throughout the conference sessions.

Peter Sorrentino, President, General Credit Services Inc.

9:15 – 9:30 a.m. :: Welcome Address from BC Hydro

On behalf of BC Hydro – a provincial Crown corporation and one of Canada’s largest electric utilities and the host for this conference – John Millard will welcome his power industry colleagues to the corporate headquarters and review how the conference focus supports this fundamental industry requirement.

John Millard, Director, Customer Revenue Management, Reporting & Analytics, BC Hydro

9:30 – 10:15 a.m. :: A Regulators Perspective: Lessons Learned from Covid-19 Relief Measures and Bill Affordability

Bill relief measures are often used by companies to support customer’s bill payment efforts during difficult or unprecedented times.  This presentation will discuss the regulator’s perspective from the British Columbia Utilities Commission (BCUC) on various bill relief measures, affordability, and the short-term and long-term impacts to customers and utilities.

Yolanda Domingo, Executive Director Rates, British Columbia Utilities Commission

10:15 – 10:45 a.m. :: Morning Break

10:45– 11:30 a.m. :: Leveraging Data to Improve Collections Activity at NiSource

NiSource is undergoing a transformation effort to reimagine our collections activities using analytics and operational enhancements. The project objective to accelerate cash collection to earlier in the revenue recovery lifecycle, reduce arrearages and decrease bad debt expense. To meet this objective, the project aims to develop new collections treatment strategies tailored to collections customer personas, introducing new methods of customer outreach, and communicating with customer earlier in the collections process.  There is also an opportunity to increase recovery of write-offs after termination of service.  The focus of the work will be to create analytical models (customer personas) based upon customers behaviors to initiate different treatment paths of communication (frequency/channel/content). The various treatment paths will include increased communication during pre-delinquency and pre-termination via, text, email, phone call. To capitalize on the reduction and recovery of write off, our current third-party collection strategy will be revamped to increase liquidation.

Laura Rosenthal, Director, Meter Reading, Collections & Revenue Recovery, NiSource

11:30 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. :: What We Wished We Knew!  A Real-Life Tale of Bill System Conversion within Collections

During the pandemic, EPCOR went through a total billing system conversion. This is quite an undertaking for every utility to convert to a new billing system but particularly during a worldwide pandemic.  In this presentation, Holly Strach will share her experience along with questions, ideas, etc. that she wished her and the entire team would have thought about prior to the conversion. Having some additional questions answered would have better prepared everyone for the conversion. She has interviewed key staff members involved in the conversion and will share some things to look out for that may go wrong (or right) for utilities looking for a new billing system.

Holly Strach, Collections Manager, EPCOR

Jeff Pidluzny, Team Lead, EPCOR

12:15 – 1:15 p.m. :: Group Luncheon

1:15– 2:00 p.m. :: Leveraging a Telecom Culture for Collections in the Utility Industry

TELUS has been recognized within North America as an industry leader for 3rd party collections producing some of the highest recovery rates in wireless and wireline within Telecommunications. Bringing the Telecommunications culture to establishing and managing operations in the utility industry can have a positive influence on the results. Customer experience is an often-overlooked component in what has traditionally been merely a cost-based decision. Peter Manianis will share insights as to how initiatives at TELUS translates to opportunity for utilities to improve collections.

Peter Manianis, Senior Vendor Manager Credit & Collections, Telus

2:00 – 2:45 p.m. :: The Long Road to Recovery at Seattle City Light

Seattle City Light has not been able to disconnect customers for many years for different reasons. After a very long hiatus, the utility has taken different steps to resume collection activities including remote disconnects as a part of their road to recovery. In this session, Marcus Jackson will share what plans are in place for Seattle City Light moving forward to improve collections and increase revenues.

Marcus Jackson, Director of Customer Operations, Seattle City Light

2:45 – 3:15 p.m. :: Afternoon Break

3:15 – 4:00 p.m. :: Partnering with the Customer to Improve Utility Collections – A Municipal Perspective

The City of Red Deer utility had been affected by the economic & energy downturn in 2015-18.  As a result, the utility team implemented a variety of delinquency initiatives designed to engage customer participation in the payment process. These programs allowed the utility team to maintain historically low levels of delinquency, overdue accounts, and write-offs during economic turmoil.  The programs provided the city with a template for new COVID support programs in 2020-2021. In 2020, we developed an enhanced delinquency process that improved upon the prior program, utilized automation and prioritization of tasks, engaged customers with the process and decentralized decision making to the lowest possible levels.  During 2021 with the largest economic shock observed in a century and a shortage of staffing resources, other retailers introduced utility levies to cover deferral losses while the City of Red Deer reduced our percentage of bad debt by 50%. This presentation highlights how this program was developed, the outcomes observed and where we’re planning to progress in the future.

James Donnelly, MBA CPA CMA, Receivables Supervisor, City of Red Deer

Donna Carreau, Credit Coordinator, City of Red Deer

4:00 – 4:45 p.m. :: Post COVID Moratorium Approach and Challenges

Collections departments have, for some time, been bracing themselves for a “debt tsunami” of people unable to meet their financial commitments. The debt peak did not appear to the level expected due to the combination of protected incomes, use of savings and a reduced spend on travel, luxury, and social related discretionary expenses. However, financial vulnerability may become widespread in all markets because of inflation, increased tax and interest rates and skyrocketing energy costs. In this session, hear how SRP is preparing for the challenges of collections after COVID.

Carisa Woolstenhulme, Credit Manager, Salt River Project

4:45 p.m. :: Conference Adjourns for the Day

 

Friday, July 22, 2022

8:15 – 8:45 a.m.
Continental Breakfast

8:45 – 11:45 a.m.
Conference Timing

 

8:45 – 9:30 a.m. :: Supporting Customers in a Time of Need

The Customer Crisis Fund is a program that offers support for residential customers who are facing disconnection of their BC Hydro service, despite attempting to make payments. Customers can apply for a grant towards an overdue balance (arrears) and the amount of the grant will vary depending on how much they owe. In this session, learn about the continuous improvement model utilized to remove barriers to increase participation and enhance customer experience.

Paul Seo, Program Manager, Contact Centre Business Improvement, BC Hydro

Jennifer Ho, Collections and Customer Crisis Fund Manager, BC Hydro

9:30 – 10:15 a.m. :: Hydro-Québec’s Strategy to Continue Improving Collections

The past two years has been uniquely challenging for all utilities when it comes to the customers’ ability to pay. This presentation will provide an overview of Hydro-Québec’s ongoing strategy to continuously improve collections. It will address how the pandemic allowed the company to experiment and finally change our strategy to one that better determines how to productively engage our clients and improve their overall experience.

Angelo Cristofanilli, Credit Risk Management Advisor, Hydro Québec

10:15 – 10:30 a.m. :: Morning Break

10:30 – 11:30 a.m. :: Closing Panel Discussion

The panel discussion will feature several industry experts talking about what is being done or considered to improve credit and collections practices as we move forward from the pandemic. This interactive panel will respond to inquiries from the moderator and audience on how technology, functionality, agency management and more continue to help improve collections. This roundtable session will also provide attendees and panelists the opportunity to brainstorm ideas for developing new program initiatives specific to utilities.

Marcus Jackson, Director of Customer Operations, Seattle City Light

Donna Carreau, Credit Coordinator, City of Red Deer

Laura Rosenthal, Director, Meter Reading, Collections & Revenue Recovery

Holly Strach, Collections Manager, EPCOR

11:30– 11:45 a.m. :: Conference Recap

Conference Chair Peter Sorrentino will provide a recap of the key points that were covered during the conference. This closing session will also allow conference attendees to ask questions about any presentation, issue, or problem.

Peter Sorrentino, President, General Credit Services Inc.

11:45 a.m. :: Conference Adjourns

Speakers

  • Donna Carreau, Credit Coordinator, City of Red Deer

  • Angelo Cristofanilli, Credit Risk Management Advisor, Hydro Québec

  • Yolanda Domingo, Executive Director Rates, British Columbia Utilities Commission

  • James Donnelly, MBA CPA CMA, Receivables Supervisor, City of Red Deer

  • Jennifer Ho, Collections and Customer Crisis Fund Manager, BC Hydro

  • Marcus Jackson, Director of Customer Operations, Seattle City Light

  • Peter Manianis, Senior Vendor Manager Credit & Collections, Telus

  • John Millard, Director, Customer Revenue Management, Reporting & Analytics, BC Hydro

  • Jeff Pidluzny, Team Lead, EPCOR

  • Laura Rosenthal, Director, Meter Reading, Collections & Revenue Recovery, NiSource

  • Paul Seo, Program Manager, Contact Centre Business Improvement, BC Hydro

  • Peter Sorrentino, President, General Credit Services Inc.

  • Holly Strach, Collections Manager, EPCOR

  • Carisa Woolstenhulme, Credit Manager, Salt River Project

Location

BC Hydro Corporate Office

333 Dunsmuir St

Vancouver, BC V6B 5R3

For more information:

please call 604-528-1600

Nearby Hotels

Georgian Court Hotel
773 Beatty St., YVR, Vancouver, BC, Canada, V6B 2M4
Phone: +1-604-6825555

Sheraton Vancouver Wall Centre
1088 Burrard St., YVR, Vancouver, BC, Canada, V6Z 2R9
Phone: +1-604-331-1000

Sandman Hotel Vancouver City Centre
180 West Georgia St., YVR, Vancouver, BC, Canada, V6B4P4
Phone: +1-604-681-2211

Delta Hotels by Marriott Vancouver
0.17 mi from Conf location
Phone: +1 604-689-8188
550 West Hastings Street, Vancouver V6B 1L6

L’Hermitage Hotel  Vancouver
0.21 mi from Conf location
Phone: +1 778-327-4100
788 Richards St Vancouver   V6B 3A4

Hilton Vancouver Downtown
0.24 mi from Conf location
Phone 604-602-1999
433 Robson St, Vancouver, BC, V6B 6L9

Hotel Blu Vancouver
0.26 mi from Conf location
Phone: +1 604-620-6200
177 Robson Street, Vancouver, BC, V6E 1B2

Metropolitan Hotel Vancouver
0.27 mi from Conf location
Phone: +1 604-687-1122
645 Howe St., Vancouver, BC, V6C 2Y9

Exchange  Hotel Vancouver
0.30 mi from Conf location
Phone  604-563-4693
475 Howe Street, Vancouver, BC, V6B 2B3

Covid Protocols

Visitors must be fully vaccinated

Visitors coming into a BC Hydro workplace and beyond lobbies and reception areas need to be fully vaccinated and must provide proof of vaccination. Visitor examples include vendors providing goods and services without a formal contract, caterers delivering into meeting rooms/kitchens, milk/coffee deliveries into our kitchens, customers, external students at the Trades Training Centre, prospective suppliers, salespeople and employee family members. Visitors need to follow all our existing protocols for each facility, such as signing in with Security and obtaining a visitor pass. The organizer of the meeting or visit needs to let their visitors know in advanced of the vaccination requirements.

  • At Dunsmuir, Edmonds, Fraser Valley Office, GMS, Revelstoke and Mica, Security personnel will complete the visual check of the visitor’s vaccine card
  • At all other locations, the person hosting the visitor(s) will need to conduct a visual check of the visitor’s vaccine card and confirm the name matches their photo ID prior to admitting them on site

In all cases, visitors will need to present valid photo ID and either their BC Vaccine Card, Canada Vaccine Card or Centers for Disease Control and Prevention card

With this change, meetings with visitors or external parties can now be held on any floor at Edmonds and Dunsmuir. Visitors are now permitted back at other offices as they were pre-pandemic, following this guidance.

Register

12% GST will be added to all registrations

REGISTER NOW FOR THIS EVENT:

North American Credit & Collections Conference for Utilities

July 21-22, 2022 | Vancouver, BC
Individual attendee(s) - $ 1795.00 each

Buy 4 seats and only pay for 3! For this event every fourth attendee is free!

Your registration may be transferred to a member of your organization up to 24 hours in advance of the event. Cancellations must be received on or before June 17, 2022 in order to be refunded and will be subject to a US $195.00 processing fee per registrant. No refunds will be made after this date. Cancellations received after this date will create a credit of the tuition (less processing fee) good toward any other EUCI event. This credit will be good for six months from the cancellation date. In the event of non-attendance, all registration fees will be forfeited. In case of conference cancellation, EUCIs liability is limited to refund of the event registration fee only. For more information regarding administrative policies, such as complaints and refunds, please contact our offices at 303-770-8800

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