Co-op Voices

Service Delivery the Co-op Way

By Robert Hance Published: July 26th, 2013

Living in the age of instantaneous information forces us to compartmentalize anything that is not immediately necessary or relevant. So much is coming at us from so many different directions that to try to understand and process everything in a meaningful way would be overwhelming.

Robert Hance

Robert Hance

But the problem is that when we categorize life and experiences, we can lose sight of the nuances that differentiate the ordinary from the extraordinary.

Here’s something that’s easy to understand and compartmentalize: Electric cooperatives are your electric utility. Through a vast and complicated infrastructure, we provide a flow of current into your home or business that provides innovations and solutions, allowing you to live with as much or as little comfort and convenience as you choose.

To boil our service delivery down to a complex system of equipment is to lose sight of what makes us different. The electric utility industry is a dynamic field, especially as it relates to technology. We actively monitor the cool, cutting-edge stuff and dive in when we believe there is something that will benefit you.

But that doesn’t necessarily make us different.

Co-op’s community work is what makes us extraordinary. At Midwest Energy Cooperative, our team contributed more than 750 hours of volunteer time last year across our vast service territory. We served meals at a soup kitchen; read to and mentored kids; and winterized homes for the elderly, among other things.

Some have argued that those activities are a waste of time and money and that we should focus solely on service delivery. I would argue that those activities ARE part of service delivery and an important piece of our overall mission as a locally owned electric utility.

Every electric utility has the same opportunity to deliver a service and charge accordingly. It’s done better or worse depending on the culture and commitment to customer service, but we all pretty much start on the same playing field.

What happens from there truly defines us.

We commit time and resources to strengthen and support every community where we deliver electric service. Community is one of our core values and a vital part of our mission and service delivery. We give back because one life touched can set off a chain reaction that ultimately makes everyone and everything better and stronger. It’s how the electric cooperative movement started 75 years ago—neighbor helping neighbor to achieve something better for the whole. That’s who we were then, and who we continue to be today.

We deliver an important commodity, but electric co-ops can’t be categorized that way, at risk of missing the nuances that differentiate us between other utilities.

You matter, your family matters, and your community matters. That’s service delivery the electric co-op way.

Robert Hance is the president/CEO of Midwest Energy Cooperative in Cassapolis, Mich.

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