SAN DIEGO, Nov. 13, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Caroline A. Winn, vice president for customer service and chief customer privacy officer at San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E), received the 2012 Customer Service Leader of the Year award today from Energy Central's Intelligent Utility magazine for employing smart grid technology and enhanced customer call center response methods to connect with customers and better serve their energy needs. With this award, SDG&E solidifies its position as a national leader in developing innovative ways to engage customers about how they can use energy more efficiently and play a vital role in conservation efforts that help the environment.
"To receive this renowned customer service award from one of the leading publications in the energy industry is something I deeply value and appreciate," said Winn. "While my name is on the award, this is a testament to the forward-looking and sustainable stance of San Diego area residents, who are early adopters of new technology and ready to get involved in energy efficiency efforts that benefit the region. I'd also like to recognize the hard work and dedication of all our employees in facilitating this new approach to energy management and helping our customers at every turn."
Winn received the recognition today as part of the 7th annual Knowledge, Innovation, Technology, Excellence (KITE) awards that are presented by Intelligent Utility magazine at the Knowledge Executive Summit in Houston, Texas on November 12-14. The event is sponsored by the magazine's parent company, Energy Central, which is a leading online news and information hub for the energy industry. The 2012 Customer Service Leader of the Year award specifically honors Winn for "modernization of SDG&E's contact center, improving billing accuracy, expanding payment options, and development of new customer communication channels."
Winn has spearheaded several customer service enhancement efforts at SDG&E, including transforming the customer contact center from being primarily focused on billing questions to serving a broader function as the customers' trusted energy advisor on a variety of subjects. SDG&E personnel are also expanding beyond phone banks to answer customer inquiries on power outages and other subjects via social media. This holistic approach to customer service starts with additional training for SDG&E call center representatives that emphasizes broad knowledge of available programs and services. This creates a one-stop-shop for customers that ensures they get the information they need right away.
In addition to enhanced customer response, SDG&E is partnering with customers to promote energy efficiency through new technology, including the "Green Button," an online tool that provides customers with easy access to up to 13 months of their detailed energy consumption data, which allows them to investigate more deeply how and when they use energy. Instead of waiting to get a bill at the end of the month, customers are empowered to get more involved in the way energy is consumed in real time, and take action to find new ways to conserve. To date, more than 13,500 customers have downloaded their data using the Green Button.
SDG&E has taken this service a step further by developing "Green Button Connect My Data," which allows customers to share their energy usage data with third parties of their choice on an automated daily basis. This opens up a new market for private companies to offer innovative services to customers that help them better manage their energy use and conserve. In addition, SDG&E recently launched the PowerTools app that provides energy usage and other information to customers in new and exciting ways, including through cell phones, tablets and personalized web portals.
As the utility works collaboratively with customers and integrates new smart grid technology, SDG&E also is putting customer privacy first, by developing a privacy program that offers customers transparency and choice about their information, as well as carefully safeguarding the energy usage data that is offered in the Green Button and other platforms. An unassailable principle for SDG&E is that the utility is the custodian of the customer's energy usage data and will protect it. Winn is a leading proponent of customer privacy and earlier this year authored an influential paper with Dr. Ann Cavoukian, the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario, Canada, on incorporating Cavoukian's "Privacy by Design" principles into SDG&E's smart grid initiative. By striving to ensure that this rigorous international standard for privacy is built into all smart grid customer programs from the start, SDG&E is taking a leadership role in customer privacy and emphasizing its integral importance to smart grid roll out efforts.
Winn's award is not the first time SDG&E has been recognized this year for its innovative customer service and smart grid plan. SDG&E received POWER magazine's 2012 Smart Grid Award and was named most intelligent utility in the United States by Intelligent Utility magazine all three years the award was given. In addition, Winn was recently named one of the 15 most influential women in the energy industry by FierceEnergy, a leading website that tracks the latest advances in this field. SDG&E will continue to develop advanced communications methods for customers and respond effectively to their energy service needs.
SDG&E is a regulated public utility that provides safe and reliable energy service to 3.4 million consumers through 1.4 million electric meters and more than 850,000 natural gas meters in San Diego and southern Orange counties. The utility's area spans 4,100 square miles. SDG&E is committed to creating ways to help customers save energy and money every day. SDG&E is a subsidiary of Sempra Energy (NYSE: SRE), a Fortune 500 energy services holding company based in San Diego.
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SOURCE San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E)