We want to make energy simple. To help with that we’ve created the series, Get to Know AEP Energy. In this series, we will introduce you to
different parts of our business to educate you and keep you informed. In this edition of Get to Know AEP Energy, we talk with Frank Willson, Vice President, Residential Business. He gives us a look at the customer and company side of our residential sales department.
Q – What is your favorite part of your job?
A – The favorite part of my job is when we get to brainstorm and come up with new and creative solutions and work together as a team. I have a fantastic team. We laugh a lot, and we have a lot of fun. We do things together inside the office, outside the office, and then when we can use that goodwill between colleagues to then say let’s tackle a problem or let’s come up with a new idea, then that’s when it’s the most fun.
Q – What is the most challenging part of your job?
A – The most challenging part is there have been companies that have created concerns about honesty and integrity in our industry. It is rare that it happens, but the bad apples can ruin the reputation for the whole industry and that’s challenging. We work very hard to make sure that we’re compliant, honest, and that we’re providing offers to customers that benefit them. We want to do it the right way.
Q – Can you explain the different residential channels that you oversee?
A – We have a variety of ways that customers can enroll with us, including our website, direct mail, and field sales agents. We also have municipal aggregations where we partner with communities and third parties to develop an electric and/or natural gas price plan for an aggregate community. In other words, the entire community negotiates one term and price plan that is better than what they would normally get just by being on the utility alone.
Q – Where do you see AEP Energy’s residential sales over the next five years?
A – We’re going to have to diversify. We have to create new value for the customer. We realize that if your company and our company are simply trying to become the cheapest offer to the customer, no one is running a successful company at that point. The value that a customer gets must be beyond price.
Q – Why should customers care about who supplies their energy?
A – They should care because they should want to work with a company they know and trust. We work very hard to make sure that we notify customers repeatedly when their contract is coming to an end so they have the opportunity to find a price plan that continues to be competitive for them. Even if their contract expires and they go on a month-to-month price plan, we have structured this price to ensure it is a competitive price and that costs are not increasing overtly.
Q – What is something about the energy industry that everyone should know?
A – It’s fascinating; I mean it really is! We have people right outside of this room running solar and wind farms on the other side of the country from their laptops. That’s fascinating! Our Commercial and Industrial Sales Team goes to a steel mill plant and recaptures heat that’s just going out into the atmosphere and then they use it to regenerate electricity to save the customer money; that’s a creative solution. It’s really cool.
Frank ended our conversation with one final note. “Whether our customers interact with us on social media, or whatever touchpoint we have with that customer, I hope they see that there are hundreds of people behind the scenes that care very much about that product.”