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In the summer of 2000, as moviegoers learned that a perfect meteorological storm can sink a fishing boat, a mid-Atlantic utility serving energy customers in Maryland, Delaware and Virginia, discovered that a "perfect storm" of operating failures can nearly sink a company. The utility, Conectiv, found its credibility seriously challenged following a series of converging events -- some beyond the utility's control and some directly caused -- by the utility. Rolling blackouts from equipment failures during an intense summer heat wave, the inability of the company's customer service center to respond to customer calls and a disastrous new automated billing system converged to seriously threaten Conectiv's position within its regional energy market. A company that traditionally enjoyed high consumer ratings plunged in customer satisfaction scores among utilities in the East as measured by J .D. Power & Associates, and Conectiv's own surveys. Conectiv initially responded with communications projects aimed at each individual problem, but customers rejected their efforts, instead venting anger through the media, public meetings, and an increasing number of calls to Conectiv's customer center.
After this series of disasterous events, Connectiv created a communications program with a single objective: Restored customer satisfaction and trust in Conectiv as a product and service provider.