Ensuring that the lights are kept on for over 12,000 members in rural Alberta is an integral and highly visible part of EQUS’ operations. There is however, another team at EQUS that works behind the scenes to keep the lights on by supporting the business operations of EQUS with member service, finance, technology, and much more.
The Business Services Team is centralized in Innisfail. Lauren Garvey (pictured) is responsible for overseeing the work that keeps the business side of EQUS on track and the members and employees satisfied and engaged.
“It’s important for us as a co-operative to operate responsibly and sustainably and to ensure we are providing the best member service possible. Because we’re not driven by profit, we’re able to strive to achieve the highest standard of service for our member-owners.”
At EQUS, each and every member is assigned a dedicated Member Service Administrator. This team acts as a single point of initial contact for members when they are looking for any information related to their account.
“Having a dedicated member service team helps to build relationships with members. Our Member Service Administrators get to know their members. They handle their billing and meter reads every month, so when the members call in with a question about their service or their account they already know who they’re talking to.”
“It makes the member feel comfortable about reaching out and helps us understand what their concerns and needs are and if there are ways we can be working to better meet those needs. By prioritizing these relationships, we create a more personal customer service experience that I think really sets us apart. Keeping our members satisfied and making sure they experience those unique advantages of being a co-op member is a big part of operating sustainably for us.”
As member-owners, EQUS members are also invited to give feedback and participate in strategic planning.
“We’re always looking to our members to provide their insights. At the end of the day, the members are the reason we’re here and their input and that relationship we’re able to have with them is a really important aspect of the co-operative business model. Whether they want to sit on the Board or attend the Annual General Meeting, we welcome their feedback and ideas and try to provide an open forum for those conversations.”
“Our annual member survey is one of the ways that we offer an opportunity for member feedback, and it’s also one way that we determine member satisfaction. From that survey we know that 98 per cent of our members are satisfied with their overall service, and I think the number that says even more is that 97 per cent of them would recommend EQUS to a friend. We also follow up after anyone has service work done to ensure the member is happy, their needs have been met, and they have no concerns.”
Another aspect of sustainable operations is ensuring that employees are engaged.
“Operating as a values-based organization increases engagement. We are involving employees in creating a stronger values-driven culture internally here at EQUS.”
“EQUS is a learning organization, and as such we regularly get everyone together as an organization for training and development so that we can all learn together and from one another. With over 100 employees working in four locations it’s important to create opportunities where we can engage in learning and continuous improvement face-to-face and build relationships as a team.”
When recruiting new employees, a good fit is key.
“In making hiring decisions, we’re obviously looking for candidates that have the knowledge and skills that would meet the requirements of the job, but we’re also looking for employees who are excited to join and contribute to a values-based organization, where they know their colleagues and leaders are going to live those values.”