Maritime Electric and Island Tel are, on the face of it, similar companies. Both are utilities, both are subsidiary companies of larger “foreign” companies (Fortis and Aliant respectively), and both maintain at least the semblance of being locally-concerned companies.
But they are different in some important ways.
When the power goes off, you can bet that within minutes the Maritime Electric trouble line will be updated with information about the outage. They provide real information, not just “we’re aware of the problem and are working on it” information — they tell you where the trucks are, and where they will be, and what’s happening. Often they update the report every five minutes or so. And you can talk to a Real Person if you need more information. Island Tel also has a trouble line, although in none of the instances there has been real, demonstrable trouble with their service have I ever found that it admits this. In fact it would appear as through the trouble line has never actually been used.
Maritime Electric has a online system to let me see my latest bill, check the status of my account and so on. Island Tel doesn’t. Remember that it’s Island Tel that is in the business of eBusiness made easy.
Maritime Electric publishes the email addresses of managers on their website. Island Tel uses one email@example.com address, and, in my experience, has about a 50% response rate to email sent there.
In October, after Oliver was born, I sent Ron Waite, Regional Vice-President, (PEI) a suggestion that they make free long distance calls available to new parents in the recovery room of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (I can’t think of a single public relations move with a bigger ROI than this). I never received a response. Last week I emailed Jim Lea, President and Chief Executive Office of Maritime Electric a note about their recent wind power announcement. He emailed me back a thank you. Himself.
What all these things have in common is that they’re about communication. Maritime Electric realizes its importance, Island Tel does not.