CEO’s Report: Adding Value

April 28, 2017

Part of Heartland’s vision for the future is to add value to the communities we serve. One of the goals outlined in our strategic plan to help ensure we realize our vision is to enhance customer relations.

The point of setting goals is to accomplish them. We want to check the box and feel the satisfaction of marking it off our list. However, I believe this particular goal will always be marked as “in progress.”

We have taken steps to increase our customers’ trust in Heartland, to improve communication and more effectively utilize the Customer Connections Committee, just as we outlined in our strategic plan.

But if we stop trying to accomplish the goal of enhancing customer relations, then we’ve inherently failed. We should continually try to exceed our customers’ expectations.

An essential component of customer service is ensuring the services we provide are beneficial to our customers. After all, the point of providing services is to benefit the customer, so shouldn’t they have a say in what they need and what we should offer?

The idea of forming a mobile line crew has been tossed around in the past and recently, after getting input from the Customer Connections Committee, we decided to further study its feasibility.

We started by conducting a survey of all of our customers, asking each one if this was a service they’d be interested in utilizing. After gathering all responses, we held a meeting for those who had indicated interest.

After thoroughly discussing the logistics and associated costs of providing such a service, it was decided by the customers present at the meeting to not further pursue the idea.

However, this remains an issue for many of our customers. Cost and retention are just two of the issues many cities have with hiring a full-time, certified lineman.

Although this idea didn’t pan out, Heartland is more than willing to help our customers look for solutions to this or any other problem your utility may be facing. We are willing to explore new ideas in hopes of providing the best services possible to our customers.

One method we’ve used to evaluate potential services is running ideas by the Customer Connections Committee. The committee was formed to provide customers a formal channel to offer their perspective and feedback on Heartland services and operations.

The committee recently welcomed five new members and now includes Michele Farris, State of South Dakota; Grant Groos, Colman, SD; Jerry Jongeling, Sioux Falls, SD; Pat Wrase, New Ulm Public Utilities, MN; Ashley Rentsch, Volga, SD; Jon Schempp, Arlington, SD; Brad Lawrence, Madison, SD; Adam Jans, Parker, SD; and Shawn Lambertz, Groton, SD.

We appreciate the input and service this committee provides, but you do not have to be a member in order to present new ideas. Heartland values the relationships we have with each of our customers and wants to hear from all of you. So if you have a problem and could use some help, or have some ideas on services your utility would benefit from, give us a call.

We will continue to work towards our goal of enhancing customer relations, and while we may never check the box as complete, we hope to continually exceed your expectations and provide value to your communities.