August 9, 2021 (SAN ANTONIO) – CPS Energy’s Customer Outreach Resource Effort (CORE) received top honors from two leading industry organizations, CS Week and Chartwell. Through CORE, CPS Energy proactively contacted thousands of residential and commercial customers starting in June 2020 to check in on their wellbeing during the COVID-19 pandemic. CORE connected customers with bill assistance resources offered by the utility, as well as other resources available through local governments and community agencies. This empathetic and personable outreach, in tandem with the utility’s suspension of service disconnections, provided timely and meaningful assistance to customers in need.
“This initiative was developed to ensure our customers knew we were here to help them and to provide information on assistance programs and other resources, but it became so much more than that. It allowed our team to connect with customers on a deeper level and make a lasting impact on their lives,” said Rudy Garza, Chief Customer & Stakeholder Engagement Officer for CPS Energy. “It is a program like no other in our industry and we are extremely proud of the team that makes this happen. These dedicated team members have a near 90 percent success rate in getting results for our customers.”
Since June 2020, CPS Energy representatives on the CORE team have:
- Spoken to 58,766 customers
- Provided agency referrals or payment arrangements to 51,719 customers
- Worked with community partners to connect customers with $31.7 million in bill assistance
Some of the many community partners CPS Energy has worked with include:
- The City of San Antonio:
- Department of Human Services
- Neighborhood & Housing Services Department
- Bexar County Economic & Community Development
- Alamo Area Council of Governments Bexar Area Agency on Aging
- Daughters of Charity Services of San Antonio
- Catholic Charities
- Bexar Military & Veterans Services
- St. Vincent de Paul Society at St. John Neumann
- St. Anthony Clarets Pantry
- Community Council of South Central Texas, Inc.
Overall, the utility works with over 100 different organizations – a number of which are United Way agencies– to help customers with bill assistance, rental assistance and other resources. The award-winning CORE initiative is an extension of those efforts.
CS Week’s Expanding Excellence Awards program recognizes outstanding contributions, innovations, and excellence in utility customer service. CS Week recognized CPS Energy’s CORE Campaign as a 2021 Expanding Excellence Awards Winner. CORE was recognized in the Innovation in People & Process category. This award recognizes projects that emphasize soft skills, low-tech solutions, and non-automated approaches to engage customers and improve services in the meter-to-cash customer experience lifecycle.
“Company-wide Expanding Excellence Awards represent the best in utility customer service. They stand for dedication, achievement, attention to detail, and resourcefulness. They serve as role models, trailblazers, inspiration, and sometimes even a kick in the pants for other utilities. Despite the physical challenges presented this year by a remote workplace due to the pandemic, these utilities accomplished great projects, launched bold initiatives, and implemented major technological systems, many while working from home,” noted Rod Litke, CS Week CEO.
Chartwell also recognized CORE in the 2021 Best Practices Awards. The awards recognize excellence among electric and gas utilities with respect to projects, programs, and service initiatives. The categories include Billing and Payment Programs, Communications, Customer Service, Digital Experience, and Program Marketing.
CPS Energy’s overarching goal is always to help its customers. Accordingly, the CORE initiative will continue as CPS Energy prepares to resume normal operations starting in September 2021, after what will be a year and a half of suspending disconnects. Customers are encouraged to answer outreach calls from CPS Energy to get bill assistance or be placed on a payment plan, or call the utility directly at (210) 353-2222. Either approach will lead to a conversation with one of the company’s talented and well-trained Energy Advisors.
Customers also should watch out for scammers. CPS Energy does not call its customers to demand payment or threaten disconnection. Customers who question whether they are receiving a real or fake call are encouraged to hang up and call CPS Energy directly.