RE Magazine: Calling CRC
For 20 years, the Cooperative Response Center has helped electric co-ops maintain personal contact with their members.
By Reed Karaim
For Adams-Columbia Electric Cooperative, 2011 was “one of those years.” In April, tornadoes swept through the service territory of the Friendship, Wis.-based distribution system, followed five months later by a punishing windstorm and then a November blizzard.
Widespread outages resulted from each event, with the September windstorm knocking out service to about half of the co-op’s 37,000 members. “It was the largest number of outages we’ve ever experienced,” reports Keith Weyh, Adams-Columbia Electric manager of support services.
But as the co-op’s line crews toiled day and night to restore power, they had an important ally: the Cooperative Response Center (CRC), a cooperatively owned, 24/7 call center and software provider based in Austin, Minn., that offers services like after-hours dispatch, round-the-clock consumer care, and monitoring of home security and personal medical alarm systems.
“We gave CRC a list of our consumer members' phone numbers, and they automatically made calls to those affected by the outage in a matter of minutes,” relates Weyh. “We could even tell when a live person had answered the phone or where a message had been left.”
CRC also handled overflow call volume during the day as well as all calls from members that rolled in overnight. The support, Weyh comments, allowed Adams-Columbia Electric personnel to concentrate on making repairs with the knowledge that members were being kept in the loop.
“It made a huge difference on member satisfaction with our response,” indicates Martin Hillert Jr., Adams-Columbia Electric CEO.
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