Senior Vice President/Member Relations
Delivering on the value of Tri-State membership
As an association created and owned by its 44 Members, Tri-State’s mission is to serve its membership with a reliable and affordable power supply in accordance with cooperative principles. That mission hasn’t changed over the association’s 62-year history, but the manner by which the membership and Tri-State must work together has dramatically changed.
A dynamic utility landscape, driven by increasing member system and member-owner expectations, new technologies, an evolving wholesale marketplace, and challenging regulatory and compliance obligations that are increasing rate pressures, makes the relationship between the distribution utilities and their power supplier closer than ever before.
When I joined Tri-State last year, my vision for the member relations department was clear; exceed the membership’s expectations for customer service from their association. Our goal for member relations is straightforward: work across the association to deliver a high level of customer care and service. To achieve this, we are listening to the members’ goals, challenges and concerns, fostering better communication, building trust, and collaborating on the issues and services each member values. We are taking a proactive, rather than a reactive, approach with our members. Increased outreach, involvement and engagement with our members will help us more effectively meet expectations.
As I’ve travelled across the region to visit with members, participated in statewide association meetings, and visited with the member managers, the message I’ve heard is that the members want to be treated not just as owners of Tri-State with long-term power supply contracts, but also as customers.
Communication is important and we’ve looked within our organization to ensure our processes support an appropriate and effective level of engagement with each member. We have reorganized the member services group and have tasked individual staff with a specific portfolio of members. These relationship managers will help foster an open dialogue to ensure we are meeting the unique needs of each member.
Trust is central to our relationships with the membership. We’re working to build trust by moving quickly to identify and address the needs of the membership. Our aim is to exceed expectations and strengthen relationships that are essential to maximizing each member’s value from the association. The harder we work to achieve these goals together, the more benefits the member systems and the association will gain.
One of the seven cooperative principles is cooperation among cooperatives. With a proactive approach that values listening to the membership, communications and trust, we will foster an even stronger collaborative environment. This is vital as we execute on programs such as the Policy 120 Demand Response and Policy 121 Energy Shaping Programs, Policy 109/110 Low Side Delivery Acquisition Program and Policies 115, 117 and 118 covering member renewable and distributed generation projects, and other efforts.
For example, Tri-State’s products offerings continue to evolve and we are listening to our members’ concerns and suggestions to help make this program more valuable and relevant. In 2013, we saw 15 of our members participate in the program. The new Product Advisory Council provides members an opportunity to review and comment on the various product offerings, and based on council and the membership’s suggestions, we have made a number of refinements that we believe will yield even higher participation in 2014.
Ultimately, whether it is delivering more value through products, services and programs, providing information, educational materials and sessions, and, of course, delivering reliable and affordable power, our goal with each of our member systems is to build trust and provide the highest level of customer service.
Updated: April 7, 2014