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Rural Missouri Magazine

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by Barry Hart

by Barry Hart

Because Missouri’s electric co-ops are member owned, we like to know how well we are doing our job for you, the owner and our boss. Every contact with you, whether it is on the phone, in the office, on Main Street or at the annual meeting, we feel is an opportunity to assess how we are doing.

Another way to see how we are doing is through surveys. Since 1989 Associated Electric, supplier of electricity to 39 Missouri co-ops, takes the pulse of the membership every three years to see what we are doing right and what can be improved.

This year the results were amazing. The members surveyed say Missouri’s electric co-ops are setting the standard for good service.

More than half of the respondents actually gave our co-ops a 10 out of 10 rating. Fifty-five percent said they were very satisfied, which compares to 47 percent among electric cooperatives nationwide.

Looking deeper into these satisfaction levels, those conducting the survey discovered three key reasons for the high marks:

• Competitive rates: This area was rated excellent by 77 percent of respondents, an 8-percent increase since 2001 and a 14-percent increase since 1998.

• Good customer service: Customer service was given an excellent rating by 86 percent of those surveyed.

• Low frequency of outages: 49 percent reported no long outages compared to only 34 percent nationally.

That these three areas were singled out by members is no surprise to electric co-op employees. That’s because these are the things cooperatives stress in their mission statements and were the principles envisioned by your cooperative’s founding fathers when your co-op was organized.

Electric cooperatives are organized as non-profit service companies. Because we don’t have to set our rates to satisfy investors, we can supply electricity at the lowest-possible prices.

But survey after survey has shown it’s not just low rates members want. You tell us reliable service is the most important priority. That’s why co-ops statewide have beefed up right-of-way clearing, employee training and cooperation among cooperatives to get the power back on quickly during widespread outages. That’s also why your cooperative carefully designs and constructs improvements to their electric system to meet growth.

Electric co-ops are different from other suppliers of electricity and you consistently tell us you like the difference and are satisfied with the results. Not only are we owned by those we serve, but in many cases the employees are also co-op members. The basic tenets of the cooperative movement include “Commitment to Community,” a role we take seriously.

While the survey results are gratifying, we recognize that cooperatives face constant challenges to remain in business. These include staying ahead of the demand for electricity, providing good service in harsh terrain and coming up with the money to build new lines and power plants.

As we continue to serve you we will continue to ask you how we are doing. Thanks to all who were contacted and took the time to respond. Because you respond when we ask you how we can serve you better, we realize you take your role as a member-owner seriously.

We know you are willing to give feedback because your employees and directors will listen and try to meet your needs. Thanks for helping your cooperative serve you better!

Hart is executive vice president of the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives.

E-mail Barry Hart

 

Rural Missouri magazine - November 2014
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Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives

Rural Missouri
2722 E. McCarty Street
P.O. Box 1645 • Jefferson City, Mo. 65102
573-659-3423

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