In wake of Monday night’s School Board decision to cancel its energy management agreement with Schneider Electric for non-performance, the Texas-based firm says that it had no knowledge of problems at Clarke County Public Schools.
In an email message Wednesday, Shon Anderson, Vice President of Sales for the Energy Solutions Group of Schneider Electric said, “We were concerned to learn about the problems Clarke County Public Schools, a client of six years, was experiencing through a recent article in the Clarke Daily News. Schneider Electric prides itself on open communication and unmatched client service, and this type of situation is certainly not consistent with our brand or the client experience we are committed to providing.”
Anderson continued saying that Schneider Electric had, “already reached out to Superintendent Dr. Michael Murphy for some clarity around the issues mentioned in the article, as we have not been made aware of this situation by either the Clarke County Public Schools client, or our salespeople on the ground in Virginia.”
Anderson’s comments perhaps illustrate the customer service challenges that can occur in a $7B multi-national corporation.
Murphy said that he was especially troubled by Schneider Electric’s statement, “We have not been made aware of this situation by either the Clarke County Public Schools client or our salespeople on the ground in Virginia.” In a Schneider Electric customer satisfaction survey obtained by the Clarke Daily News, CCPS placed Schneider Electric on notice about non-performance as early as December 2009.
Schneider Electric’s, “Voice of the Customer” survey document, published on Schneider Electric letterhead, documents complaints and problems by four Clarke County administrators; CCPS Superintendent Dr. Michael Murphy, CCPS Business Manager Edward Breslauer, Energy Coordinator Alison Teetor, and Maintenance Director Bobby Levi.
The survey interview, conducted by Schneider Electric Regional Sales Manager Weston Ernst, makes it clear that Clarke County was very dissatisfied with nearly every aspect of the energy management relationship.
In the survey Schneider Electric asked CCPS, “How could we help you better serve your internal or external customers?” Clarke County’s response: “Help the district save the energy promised” and “Project has made buildings worse and created more problems.”
Asked to use a scale of 1-10 to rate its satisfaction with Schneider Electric’s products, performance and whether Schneider Electric would be recommended to a friend or colleague CCPS awarded Schneider a score of “0”.
The document states that Schneider Electric will “follow-up by January 15 to define the plan and resolve concerns and set the vision for the partnership”.
CCPS’s six-year energy management relationship with Schneider Electric was financed by Clarke County taxpayers through a $1.5M loan from BB&T Bank. According to Dr. Murphy, the loan covered the cost of school infrastructure changes like water saving sinks, faucets, energy efficient lighting and HVAC improvements intended to save energy. Murphy said that the cost of Schneider Electric’s services was supposed to be off-set by energy savings, but it is unclear whether the promised savings have been realized. School officials claim that the Schneider Electric project problems are “bringing discredit on the concept of energy savings”.
CCPS concerns that removal of Schneider Electric’s proprietary software and hardware control systems may cause problems in the event of a contractual dispute appear to be unfounded, at least for the time being; According to Schneider Electric’s Anderson, “We are committed to working with Clarke County Public Schools to rectify this situation immediately and will continue to provide consultative services to them throughout the transition process should they decide to go in a different direction.”