For B.C.'s biggest companies, Key Account Managers are vital

Sukh Salh, Manager of Key Account Management, BC Hydro.

It pays to lean on a BC Hydro Key Account Manager

BC Hydro has 1.5 million residential and business customers across the province, but 900 of them represent 52% of the total electricity use in B.C.

These are BC Hydro's "key accounts", an assortment of B.C.'s largest companies, including large institutions such as hospitals and universities, large commercial companies such as big retailers and restaurant chains, and industrial facilities. To help them manage electricity use well, BC Hydro assigns them each a "Key Account Manager" (KAM).

If you're among the companies who have a KAM (those who consume 4 GWh, or about $250,000 of electricity per year or more), you have access to a strategic advisor, a troubleshooter, and a source of ideas about how to improve your business and cut your costs.

If you haven't fully tapped into this resource, you might be wondering what your KAM can do for you.

Sectoral expertise

"BC Hydro has many departments and programs, and we KAMs are your single point of contact into everything that you need," says Sukh Salh, BC Hydro's manager of Key Account Management. "Whether it's a connection issue, a question about rates and billing, help with forecasting future demand and costs, ideas for energy conservation — we'll often get involved with helping our customers."

Because they are assigned to different commercial and industrial sectors, Key Account Managers bring expertise beyond just addressing customers' electricity needs.

"We have someone that's involved in the grocery sector, for example," says Salh. "We have somebody who's looking at the big property management companies, another for oil and gas, another for hospitals, schools and universities. They learn about current issues and trends in their sector. So they develop expertise in that segment — and they know which BC Hydro programs align best with those customers' needs."

Achieving your business goals

While KAMs hold responsibility for helping achieve reductions in energy usage, Salh says that comes wrapped in an approach that's all about improving a customer's business.

"For commercial customers, we ask, 'Can we help you sell more goods?' So for example, there's a drugstore chain whose desire is to be the brightest-lit store of any store. If that's your approach to selling and that's what you want to do, can we make you more efficient in doing that? Can we introduce new technologies to you to help you achieve that goal and cut costs too?"

Sahl points out that energy efficient technologies such as LED lighting can improve the colour rendering of goods in retail environments, and improve employee satisfaction with the workplace in offices.

"In a sawmill, we don't say, 'Why don't you improve the efficiency of your kiln, it's better for the environment.' Instead, we'll go to the VP of sales and say, 'Dry lumber has a higher margin than green lumber, and the only reason you're not selling more higher margin product is because you've got an inefficient kiln — so let's all win on this one.'"

Salh has a similar story about helping a hockey rink improve its lighting quality (and efficiency) in order to qualify for a Junior A team. "We have to help you meet your goals, so our typical question is, 'What do you want to accomplish? Now, let's do it efficiently, together.'"

Trusted advisor

While a KAM can help customers access Power Smart funding for studies and efficiency projects, Salh says they often play a role helping customers with building the business case needed to gain support for those projects.

"Many customers don't have an energy specialist on staff — someone whose job entails looking at the way electricity is going in their building, their mall, or their retail outlet. So when they're looking for budget and making a capital request for their projects, having BC Hydro come along or provide support is always helpful."

Salh points out that KAMs are impartial. They can explain technologies, different approaches to energy savings, and how BC Hydro programs can improve a business plan — but they focus on solutions that meet the needs of the customer, rather than promoting a specific product brand or organization.

They bring a range of backgrounds to the job, but all are skilled at understanding a customer's core business, and handling executive level questions and challenges.

"Customers invite us into the conversation," he says. "I think we've gone beyond the transactional. We're achieving what we've been deliberately trying to be — to be a trusted advisor," he says.

"We're at our best when we look at the customer's business imperatives, and answer the question, "How can BC Hydro help you be successful?"

Contact your KAM

If you're a larger BC Hydro customer (generally more than 4 GWh of electricity consumption per year) with a Key Account Manager, contact your KAM for any questions about energy usage or BC Hydro service.

What if you don't have a KAM?

If you're a smaller customer without a designated account manager, contact us or call 604 453 6400 in the Lower Mainland, 1 866 453 6400 elsewhere in the province.