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Powering up Utilities through Mobile and Social Media

Event Description and Agenda:

Historically, utilities are alleged to be classic, "late-adopters" of the new. The businesses are incented to be risk-averse by the regulations and regulators that control the industry. Yet, in today's digital age, customers expect from their utilities faster, more efficient customer service, as well as increased opportunities to reduce their energy bills.

The combination of smart grid investments, social media and mobile apps have given utilities a host of new tools to shake their stodgy reputation and improve their customer engagement. These types of media are critical in reaching customers during power outages, as well as in providing energy saving tips, bill pay and other customer engagement services. Though many utilities are rapidly and successfully using social media and mobile applications to improve engagement in these areas, there is still plenty of room for improvement. Consumers want to communicate through social media to ask questions, express opinions and add localized information that would help other customers in their community.

This conference will bring together industry and utility experts from across Canada and the United States to share their expert knowledge, experiences and aspirations regarding mobile and social media. Speakers will discuss specific ways in which mobile and social media are already transforming the utility landscape. Attendees will take away additional knowledge and resources required to implement effective mobile and social solutions within the areas of customer engagement.


Monday, February 23, 2015

7:45 - 8:15 a.m. :: Registration and Continental Breakfast

8:15 - 8:25 a.m. :: Opening Remarks

8:25 - 8:45 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 utility for this conference - Keith Anderson will welcome his power industry colleagues to the corporate headquarters and review how the conference focus supports this fundamental industry requirement.

Keith Anderson, General Manager - Customer Service, BC Hydro

Mobile and Social Media for Utilities

8:45 - 9:30 a.m. :: From Information to Inspiration

With the trend to paperless billing, utilities are quickly losing a key one-to-one customer communication vehicle. Many are looking at digital solutions to bridge the gap. Unfortunately, competition for customer attention in a crowded, one-to-many, task-oriented digital space, makes capturing customers attention difficult. This segment will review the strategies Union Gas is employing to engage and inspire customers, from digital storytelling to social media marketing and search engine optimization.

Andrea Stass, Manager - Media Relations and External Communications, Union Gas

Greg Prieur, Web and Interactive Communications Team Lead, Union Gas

9:30 - 10:15 a.m. :: Digital Business Strategy: Energizing the Public Sector

In 2014, statements like "people are going digital" and "people are going mobile" are now past-tense statements. Even social media is no longer an emerging technology, and a social handle is as commonplace as a phone number. Canadians have become more connected, integrated, and digital savvy…are you keeping up? In today's public sector, there is a strong requirement for fiscal prudency, transparency, operational excellence, and ease-of-use, all expectations by those we serve. Through a strong and integrated digital business strategy, you will be able to match the public's expectations of your digital properties and recognize significant operational savings. Learn how BC Hydro, a crown corporation, has transformed this goal into reality.

Greg Stanway, Manager of Customer Strategy & Projects, BC Hydro

Scott Daws, Director of Consulting, CGI

Nick McGregor, Senior Account Executive, Adobe Systems

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

10:45 - 11:30 a.m. :: Measuring the Mobile ExperienceAEP is devoted to providing its customers with a seamless experience, which is why responsive design plays such an important role in the utility's user interface. This segment will take the audience through a brief history of AEP's mobile evolution. It will detail how the company uses customer research to drive mobile decisions and provide mobile design tips, showcase usability testing and eye tracking. It will also offer predictions on trends and future developments.

Eric J. Davis, Principal User Experience Consultant, American Electric Power (AEP)


11:30 a.m. - 12:15 p.m. :: An Integrated Approach to Outage Communications

Social media and mobile web experiences are becoming more interconnected as part of the new customer experience. Having consistency within a company's digital ecosystem is increasingly important on the customer journey. This session will look at how BC Hydro has developed tools across native channels to complement social media platforms with the aim optimize the customer experience — specifically, when communicating in major storms and prolonged outages.

Brandon Young, Manager - Content and Social Media, BC Hydro

Vickie Chan, Manager - Digital Strategy and Operations, BC Hydro

12:15 - 1:15 p.m. :: Group Luncheon

Using Social Media to Improve Customer Communications

1:15 - 2:00 p.m. :: The Social Customer: Proper Care and Feeding

An utility's customers are talking about the company - and at the company - every day. Is the company listening? Who are the customers? How can the company help them? And, really, what's in it for the utility? Idaho Power's initial social-media goal was to humanize its brand. This segment will discuss how the company humanized its brand, how the conversations with customers (including the media) have evolved, and provide examples of how just a little extra attention can build strong relationships and turn "badvocates" into advocates.

Kevin Winslow, Corporate Communications Specialist, Idaho Power

2:00 - 2:45 p.m. :: Building an Audit-Proof Social Media Governance Plan

Developing solid social media strategies is one thing, but on what foundation is the utility building? If the company's internal auditors came calling to assess the potential risk of its governance policies and practices, would it pass? What consideration has the company given to use of technology, in-application messaging, content flow, and legal considerations? This session will cover the essential components of building a social media governance program, including channel assessment, ongoing management, risk mitigation, and internal governance.

Jennifer Decunha, Internal and Online Communications Manager, Capital Power Corporation

2:45 - 3:15 p.m. :: Networking Break

3:15 - 4:00 p.m. :: How the Company "Selfie" Can Improve Your Utility's Image

Social Media is changing the way we communicate, a concept everyone grasps. It is re-defining media in general. If an utility can't get the coverage it wants, employees can take their own photo, video or interview and post it, Tweet it and get it to customers. Work "traditional" contacts and they may even re-Tweetback, broadening the company's reach. Even video "selfies" and company-generated reporting of news from a gas leak, outage or other disaster from a location blocked from media access can achieve meaningful objectives. In this sense, it is even considered a media relations tool. This segment will discuss how to leverage this tool and improve an utility's profile.

Patrick Stella, Digital Media Representative, National Grid

4:00 - 5:00 p.m. :: Roundtable Discussion: Overcoming Common Struggles

In this panel discussion, several utilities will discuss the challenges and successes of communicating a common message across various channels. The discussion will include:

  • The common struggles they face in regards to social media and/or mobile applications
  • How they are responding to meet and exceed customer expectations
  • Brainstorming ideas for developing new initiatives

Kevin Winslow, Corporate Communications Specialist, Idaho Power

Jenny Chia, Digital & Customer Communications Manager, FortisBC

Patrick Stella, Digital Media Representative, National Grid

Brandon Young Manager, Content and Social Media, BC Hydro

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

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

Using Social Media to Improve Customer Communications (continued)

8:30 - 9:15 a.m. :: Resourcing for Social Media with Limited Resources

How can the company feed the social media beast that needs to be fed when it has limited department resources available? This is the challenge that faced PowerStream a couple of years after the energy company launched its social media channels in July 2012. As audiences of the company's social media channels increased, so did the need for 24/7 monitoring and responding. This segment will provide an inside look at how the company faced this issue and became resourceful in securing additional resources by taking advantage of opportunities and developing partnerships.

Eric Fagen, Vice President Corporate Communications, PowerStream Inc.

9:15 - 10:00 a.m. :: How Does Your Utility Compare to Your Peers in Deploying Social Media?

The results are in! E Source will share top findings from its 2014 Social Media Survey and reveal:

  • What channels utilities are using
  • How they're measuring the success of their efforts
  • What their staffing, organizational structure, and budgets look like

This segment will impart a solid understanding of the latest industry trends in social media and a plan for how to use this important tool more effectively.

Aleana Reeves, Senior Manager - Marketing & Customer Experience, E Source

10:00 - 10:30 a.m. :: Networking Break

10:30 - 11:15 a.m. :: Coloring the Digital Media Space: Telling the PSE Story through Photos and Videos

Think outside the character limit! Puget Sound Energy's social media strategy begins and ends with visuals. PSE is taking customers on photographic journeys — literally "road trips" — through its wind farms and hydro plants. Stormtroopers, via video, are providing energy efficiency tips. Safety messages are explained in a comic book! PSE is boldly coloring outside the lines to get customer's attention. And it's working! This segment will describe the utility's approach.

Abbey Elliott, Social Media Program Manager, Puget Sound Energy

11:15 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. :: Social Engagement: Capturing Customer Attention One Bonus Entry at a Time

The challenge: promoting the benefits and diverse uses of natural gas in the home by capturing the interest of a relatively indifferent audience. The solution: a fun and sharable contest supported by a seamless and responsive microsite and robust social sharing platform. This segment will discuss how a natural gas patio giveaway contest enhanced customer engagement and shone the spotlight on the power of social sharing.

Jenny Chia, Digital & Customer Communications Manager, FortisBC

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