Our ability to make informed decisions that create long-term value for our customers and the communities where we live, work and serve is enhanced by the relationships we have with our many different stakeholders. We are leveraging technology to strengthen these connections and investing time, talent and treasure to support them. Strong communities and satisfied customers are a priority for AEP.
Successful relationships require good faith, honesty and transparency about the reasons for our decisions. Strategic alliances and business relationships are essential to advance AEP's business strategy and support economic growth, improve quality of life and innovation, and lead to fair and cost-effective public policies.
Being a responsible corporate citizen goes beyond the fence line to engaging our stakeholders, delivering the services and choices our customers need and want, and investing in our communities so they can thrive and prosper.
AEP is committed to engaging stakeholders and we do so in many different ways.
Our goal is to meet or exceed customer expectations.
Having vibrant, strong communities is important and AEP is working with local leaders to help ensure success.
Customers judge their experience with any company in terms of cost, quality and service. They also measure value by how well a company responds when something goes wrong. Demonstrating that we care about our customers in every interaction we have with them is the hallmark of a positive customer experience.
The customer experience encompasses every touch point we have with our customers, whether on the phone, with a line crew in the field, through billing and online transactions, or through the interactions our employees have while serving in the community. It is one of AEP’s main areas of focus and because it is a high priority for us, we are committed to improving customer satisfaction.
We are dedicated to providing customers with access to professional, friendly and competent customer operations associates to answer their call in a timely and efficient manner. We constantly strive to improve the customer experience by reducing the amount of effort the customer must exert when doing business with us. In 2014, our Customer Operations Centers handled just over 22 million calls with an Average Speed of Answer of only 81 seconds.
Corporate philanthropy is one way we support our local communities. Another is through our work force, many of whom selflessly serve on local boards and commissions, coach Little League teams, lead Parent-Teacher Associations or volunteer at local homeless shelters and food banks.
United Way is one of the several organizations AEP supports to enhance quality of life, advance education and enrich communities. Community Care Day is one of the features of the United Way campaigns, where hundreds of AEP employees volunteer their time and labor to support local schools and non-profit organizations.
AEP employees helped coordinate and conduct 23 community service projects in Louisiana, Michigan, Ohio, Oklahoma and Virginia in October 2014 in conjunction with the Make a Difference Day nationwide initiative.
In 2014, the AEP Foundation collaborated with Bossier Parish Community College in Bossier City, La. to provide a $1.4 million grant over five years to expand the Credits CountSM program. Credits CountSM is a five-year, dual enrollment program to help students pursue STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) education and careers while completing a high school diploma.
In early 2015, the AEP Foundation announced a further expansion of Credits CountSM to Tulsa Community College Foundation in Oklahoma to provide $3 million over five years, benefiting high school and middle school students in Tulsa Public Schools. The program engages students’ families and provides the opportunity for students to graduate from high school with at least 12 college credits toward a certificate or toward a college degree in STEM fields.
A major focus of AEP’s philanthropic giving is serving basic human needs. Housing is one such need that Habitat for Humanity seeks to fill. AEP has long been a supporter of the organization through corporate giving and volunteer support to build homes for families in need. Here, AEP Chairman, President and CEO, Nick Akins, celebrates the early construction of building not only a house, but a new life, for a local family in Ohio.
Developing and investing in the local communities where we operate and provide service has become increasingly important to us and our communities. Our Economic and Business Development team works with local communities and state officials to attract and retain businesses and jobs.
The Economic and Business Development team provides comprehensive assistance, such as property searches and screening; custom research on demographics, work force, incentives and GIS mapping; electric service plan and rate design; site visits; design, build and maintenance services for electrical facilities; local economic development training; and introductions to state, regional and local government officials and business leaders.
AEP continues to focus on building a portfolio of well-prepared sites in our service territory to meet the needs of expanding companies. AEP has nine sites pre-qualified for data center development and 18 industrial sites working toward certification in 2015.
AEP Ohio launched its Community Economic Development Academy (CEDA) in southeastern Ohio. The academy, developed in conjunction with the Appalachian Partnership for Economic Growth, helps local economic development professionals and key community leaders understand the types of information required by businesses selecting sites for new facilities
Doug Leuthold, President, Advanced Fiber Technology, speaks to high school students as part of the Work force Awareness for Graduates and Educators (WAGE) program. WAGE was funded, in part, by a Local Economic Assistance Program (LEAP) grant from AEP Ohio Economic & Business Development.
AEP Ohio Economic & Business Development works with local partners to bring new business and jobs to Ohio. The Findlay Hancock County Economic Development team helped McLane Company, Inc. locate its new distribution center, creating 425 new jobs and $119 million investment in Findlay, Ohio.