COVID-19 Update: ACSI Data Shows Decline in Customer Satisfaction Continues, Energy Waste Reduction Saves Michigan Customers Nearly $1.2B, and More

Here is a roundup of the latest news concerning the COVID-19 pandemic in addition to announcements from local, state, and federal governments, as well as international channels. To share a business or nonprofit story, please send us a message.
map of Michigan coronavirus cases by county
Courtesy of Bridge, as of Feb. 16

Here is a roundup of the latest news concerning the COVID-19 pandemic in addition to announcements from local, state, and federal governments, as well as international channels. To share a business or nonprofit story, please send us a message.

ACSI Data Shows Decline in Customer Satisfaction Continues
The deterioration in U.S. customer satisfaction continued in 2020, with a 0.9 percent drop in the fourth quarter to a score of 73.7 (out of 100), according to the national American Customer Satisfaction Index out of Ann Arbor.

While the COVID-19 pandemic may have exacerbated things, the decline in ACSI began more than a year before the pandemic hit, according to ACSI. The national customer satisfaction has declined in eight of the past nine quarters. It’s now at its lowest level since 2005.

“Some 20 years ago, when more companies came to realize that investments in customer satisfaction seemed to have good financial payoffs, scores began to rise,” says Claes Fornell, founder and chairman of ASCI. “From the late 1990s to 2014, there was a clear upward trend in customer satisfaction. The progress came to an end in late 2013, followed by a period of mostly flat ACSI scores. That period lasted until late 2018. Since then, there has been a steep decline in customer satisfaction.”

Since ACSI is predictive of both consumer spending and GDP, both have been fragile for some time now. The weakness in consumer spending, however, is not due to lack of disposable income or lack of savings. Both have gone up. Nevertheless, GDP contracted by 3.5 percent during 2020 even though it was up by 4 percent in the final quarter.

One factor contributing to the decline in customer satisfaction may be that U.S. domestic markets have become less competitive, says ACSI. Barriers to entry have increased and capital investments have dropped. Another likely factor is that the tools companies use for analyzing data about customers need improvement. The IT revolution has led to growth of data supply, more data storage, faster transmission, distribution, and crafty data display.

To ascertain how to best satisfy and keep customers, however, information about cause-and-effect is necessary. Many of the analytical tools rely on artificial intelligence to find patterns in consumer data, but patterns say little about cause and effect. Increased use of causal models would probably be an effective remedy.

For more information, visit here.

MPSC Report: Energy Waste Reduction Saves Michigan Customers Nearly $1.2B
Michigan continued to see the benefits of energy waste reduction efforts in 2019 as EWR programs saved the state nearly 1.5 million megawatt hours of electricity and more than 5 million cubic feet of natural gas, according to the Michigan Public Service Commission’s Annual Report.

According to the MPSC’s Annual Report on the Implementation of PA 295 2019 Utility Energy Waste Reduction Programs, 64 investor-owned, cooperative and municipal electric companies in Michigan spent nearly $250.7 million on EWR programs, while the state’s natural gas utilities spent nearly $96 million.

The combined total of nearly $347 million on EWR programs by all of the state’s electric and natural gas utilities is expected to save customers nearly $1.2 billion over the 12-year lifecycle of EWR efforts adopted in 2019. The report concludes that for every $1 spent on EWR programs in 2019, customers should realize savings of $3.30.

The report found that EWR programs cost utilities $16.61 per MWh in 2019, significantly cheaper than the $42.80 per MWh it would cost through building new generation facilities, based on estimates from the U.S. Energy Administration’s Annual Energy Outlook 2020.

Utilities spent nearly $38 million on EWR programs in 2019 for qualified low-income households. EWR programs reduce the energy burden, improve health outcomes, and strengthen the economic security of low-income customers and communities, according to MPSC.

The report also concluded that wind remained the dominant source of renewable energy in the Great Lakes State. Utility-scale wind turbines accounted for 72 percent of the approximately 3,100 megawatts (MW) of renewable energy capacity in 2019.

Hydroelectric facilities accounted for 11 percent, biomass 6 percent, landfill gas 5 percent, and solar installations and municipal solid waste 3 percent.

Domino’s Raises More Than $13M for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
Ann Arbor-based Domino’s Pizza Inc., the largest pizza company in the world based on global retail sales, and franchise-owned stores across the country have joined forces to raise a recording-breaking $13 million to support St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in 2020.

The campaign follows the commitment Domino’s made in September 2020 to raise $100 million by 2030. As customers and team members were raising funds for a strong first year of the new commitment, preparations began to start construction on The Domino’s Village, a new patient housing facility for St. Jude families to call home while their children receive care for childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases. The Domino’s Village is expected to open its doors in spring 2023.

More than $10.2 million of the funds came from donors during the annual St. Jude Thanks and Giving campaign. The campaign, which ran for 11 weeks starting on Oct. 19, 2020, through Jan. 3, 2021, was the 17 consecutive St. Jude Thanks and Giving. Domino’s has participated in the campaign since the inaugural year. Prior to the 2020 campaign, Domino’s offered the opportunity for customers to round up their order total and donate the change to benefit St. Jude. This year, the round up totaled more than $2.8 million.

“During a particularly challenging year, I am in awe of the generosity of our brand’s customers during the annual St. Jude Thanks and Giving campaign,” says Ritch Allison, CEO of Domino’s. “The record number of funds raised in stores this year speaks volumes about not only the dedication of Domino’s team members and customers, but also the groundbreaking work done by St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.”

Domino’s $100 million pledge is the largest corporate commitment in the history of St. Jude.

Healthify Creates Statewide Michigan Community Network to Address Social Disparities
Healthify, a company that works with managed care organizations to integrate social determinants of health (SDoH) into the health care ecosystem, today announced it is building a statewide network of community-based organizations in Michigan.

The network will enable health plans to work together with community-based social services organizations throughout the state to better integrate clinical and non-clinical care to identify social disparities and coordinate care to improve health outcomes.

“Community-based organizations have an unparalleled knowledge of their local culture and needs, and there’s an opportunity to strategically leverage their capabilities for the betterment of all Michiganders,” says Cesar Herrera, chief solutions officer at Healthify. “We are welcoming social services providers across Michigan to join the statewide Healthify network. Not only are we building a foundation of services, but we’re also growing available solutions to help residents with complex needs thrive in their communities by connecting them with resources from across a larger network.”

The Healthify network will include community organizations that provide a range of services that address non-medical needs — such as food insecurity, lack of transportation, unemployment, inadequate housing, financial instability, and more — that can have a significant impact on a person’s health.

Health plans will be able to use the Healthify SDoH platform to screen for social needs among members, search for local social services providers in the Michigan Community Network, and coordinate care. The benefits of the network include stronger collaboration, better ability to measure and gauge impact of services, and streamlined care coordination.

Community based organizations that are interested in joining the network can visit here.

XLerateHealth Accelerator in Flint Recruiting Entrepreneurs
The XLerateHeath accelerator in Flint is recruiting health care Flint and Genesee County entrepreneurs, innovators, and startups for its 2021 cohort.

Applications are open through April 30 for the virtual program that runs from July 15-Sept. 23.

XLerateHealth is one of the nation’s longest-standing health care accelerators. The program expanded to Flint in 2018. Once a cradle for the birth of the automobile industry and a 20th Century industrial powerhouse, Flint is evolving to become the center of a 21st Century startup ecosystem. XLerateHealth works side-by-side with innovators, local government, and the venture capital and angel investor ecosystem, as well as a wealth of talent and resources from local universities, including The University of Michigan.

For more information and to apply, visit here.

Crystal Mountain to Unveil New ‘Pump Track’ Friday
Crystal Mountain Resort in Thompsonville, southwest of Traverse City, has partnered with The Pumping Service, a local septic tank pumping business, to develop the state’s only ski and snowboard pump track, which is scheduled to open Friday.

A pump track is a continuous circuit of snow rollers designed to be ridden by “pumping” ones body up and down to generate momentum downhill. The pump track is designed for all ages and levels of skiers and riders, and will be on Megan’s Way, one of the resort’s North Face slopes. Megan’s Way is classified as a beginner’s slope.

“We’re excited to launch this new feature for our guests that also engages and helps promote a long-time partner here, The Pumping Service,” says John Melcher, COO at Crystal Mountain. “This unique partnership is certainly a first for Crystal Mountain, but we also believe it is the only current pump track in the state.”

The Pumping Service, formerly Benzie, Crystal and Interlochen Pumping Service Inc., is a family owned and operated company in Beulah, offering professional septic tank, holding tank and grease trap pumping services to northern Michigan since 1975.

The Pumping Service has been a Crystal Mountain vendor for more than 20 years, and wanted to bring some awareness around the company’s new identity and change in ownership.

“When we were presented with the opportunity to sponsor Crystal Mountain’s new pump track, there was no way we could pass it up,” says Nate Geetings, owner of The Pumping Service. “We have valued our relationship with Crystal and know how many people of Northern Michigan visit and support them. It’s a perfect fit for us. We can’t wait to use this platform to let people know about the exciting changes happening within our company.”

Kirkpatrick Management Co. Earns Top Industry Professional Credential
Kirkpatrick Management Co., which has an office in Clinton Township, recently earned the Accredited Association Management Company credential from Community Associations Institute (CAI).

KMC is one of fewer than 250 management companies worldwide that have earned the highest level of professional recognition in the community association management field.

“I am extremely proud to announce that Kirkpatrick Management Co. has earned the prestigious designation, Accredited Association Management Company from Community Associations Institute,” says Robert S. Kirkpatrick, president of KMC. “This designation is the highest level of professional accreditation a management company can receive from CAI, putting KMC into an elite status nationally. The award signifies Kirkpatrick’s commitment to the highest standards of professionalism, ethics, and continuous education and development.”

To earn the AAMC credential, a management company must have three years of experience in community association management and at least 50 percent of its managers must have earned professional designations.

Professional managers provide administrative, operational, and managerial counsel to community association boards. Managers typically are responsible for managing budgets and contractors, directing association personnel, and overseeing compliance with association covenants and restrictions.

Cantoro Italian Markets Now Offering New Artisan Wines
Cantoro Italian Markets in Livonia and Plymouth Township announce the arrival of new artisan wines, one red and one white, hand crafted in Lazio Italy, exclusively for Cantoro.

The white is a blend of pinot grigio and trebbiano. The red blend is made up of merlot, nero d’ avola, and a splash of Sangiovese. Both of these wines are available in the market for $7.99 or two for $15.00

Priority Health Helps ReLeaf Michigan Plant Hundreds of Trees Statewide
Priority Health, headquartered in Ann Arbor, is investing in the wellness of Michiganders with environmental regeneration through tree planting.

The health plan has partnered with ReLeaf Michigan, the only statewide tree planting nonprofit organization. Through this partnership, Priority Health is helping ReLeaf Michigan to plant hundreds of trees in various locations across the state and educating communities about the important health benefits of trees.

ReLeaf now is accepting applications for 2021 tree planting events. Applications may be submitted here for plantings on public property, such as parks, along streets, or land accessible to the public.

ReLeaf also provides education about trees and their impact on environmental and physical health. A free statewide virtual presentation is being offered on Tuesday, March 23 from noon-1 p.m. Register to attend here.

“The connection between mental, physical, and environmental health is undeniable, which is why Priority Health is passionate about collaborating with like-minded organizations, such as ReLeaf Michigan, to improve the health of our state through tree planting and education,” says Praveen Thadani, president of Priority Health.

Detroit Women Take a Stand Against Heart Disease
The American Heart Association’s Detroit Go Red for Women Luncheon Digital Experience to support the fight to end heart disease and stroke will take place Feb. 26, and for the first time it is free and open to the public.

This year the theme is “Faces of Heart,” and we will shine a light on women across metro Detroit from diverse backgrounds and communities who have been impacted by heart disease and stroke.

“This year’s event has particular significance as its theme, ‘Faces of Heart,’ brings awareness to the social determinates of health that disproportionately impact women,” says Kristian Hurley, Detroit executive director of the AMA. “Women’s health is an equity issue. COVID-19 has been an unfortunate reminder of the impact social factors and racial inequality can have on the health of BIPOC communities, this year we will celebrate women, we will share stories from survivors, and we will embrace the incredible diversity of all the many faces of heart.”

The Detroit Go Red for Women Luncheon is co-chaired by Tricia Keith, executive vice presient of emerging markets for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, and Betsy Meter, former Michigan managing partner, for KPMG. This premier virtual experience will be emceed by Lila Lazarus and will feature keynote speaker Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, Michigan’s chief medical executive.

The Detroit Go Red for Women Luncheon is sponsored nationally by CVS Health and locally by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, KPMG, Toyota, ITC Holdings Corp., and Huntington Bank.

For more information, visit here.

Artwork from the Detroit School of Arts Now on Display on Woodward Avenue
Artwork from students at the Detroit School of Arts is now on display in the heart of downtown Detroit at 1413 Woodward Ave. as part of an art competition hosted by local mentorship group Leaders Amongst Leaders.

Ten high school students were chosen to display their one-of-a-kind canvases in the window of the storefront, where they will catch the eye of people as they walk along Woodward Avenue.

Each canvas created by students based on their interpretation of this year’s Black History Month theme, “The Black Family: Representation, Identity, and Diversity.”

The public is invited to vote for their favorite piece by using the QR code in the window of the display or via this link. The student whose art receives the most votes will win the grand prize; a gift basket of art supplies valued at $1,500.

At the conclusion of the competition, all 10 art pieces will be displayed in the Hamilton Tucker Art Gallery in Highland Park from March 2-31.