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Need some friendly advice? We can help!
By Pam Maris on October 6, 2017
If you need information on lowering your bill, how to transfer service, or want to know what program can help with weatherizing your home, Katy Surman and our other energy advisors have the answers.
Katy works at our Northside customer walk-in center. She has eight years of customer service experience – assisting customers with their bills and billing issues, helping them start and stop service, and more. But despite her tenure, being an energy advisor is a fairly new role for her. Last year, our Company’s customer service representatives were renamed energy advisors, and they’re now sharing more energy-saving information and tips with our customers.
Katy is one of 40 energy advisors and tellers at our four walk-in centers who together assisted 920,000 customers last year, while our team of 118 energy advisors and 64 Sitel representatives in our Call Center assisted 3.4 million.
“Before, we were helping customers with their bill,” says Katy. “Now, we’re helping them save energy so they’re not faced with that high bill.”
The volume of positive feedback from our customers indicate they’re heeding the advice. Katy routinely hears gratifying comments like, “Hey, I changed the setting on my heating or air conditioning. Wow, you were right.”
In addition to energy-saving tips, the energy advisors equip our customers with information about our Company’s assistance programs such as Casa Verde, Affordability Discounts, Budget Payment Plan and Senior Citizens Waiver.
“One of the biggest eye-openers for our customers is that they can do so many things online through Manage My Account,” says Robert Hernandez, another energy advisor at our Northside walk-in center. “They’re blown away when they find what they can do online. ‘I can start service online?’ they’ll ask, making sure they heard right.” Manage My Account allows customers to conveniently do transactions such as start and transfer service, close their account and pay their bill.
Robert has 12 years of customer service experience with us: two in our Call Center and 10 in our walk-in centers. At some point in his career, he’s worked in each of our four walk-in locations – Northside, Eastside, Westside and Southside centers.
Occasionally, Robert and Katy are called upon to help out at one of these other centers that may be experiencing a high volume of customers. The cool thing is they don’t have to drive to that location; they’re able to provide virtual assistance from their Northside offices.
“We started this about a year-and-a-half ago,” says Robert, as he shows the camera mounted atop his computer monitor. It allows him to see and interact with customers seated at a similar station within the other walk-in center. The virtual assistant service gives our customers that face-to-face experience and cuts their wait time, while also reducing risks with our energy advisors being on the road, vehicle emissions, and drive time.
Our Company’s Energy Portal is another great tool that our energy advisors can use, especially when a customer has a concern or question about a high bill. The energy advisor can go to the portal and show the customer how much energy they’re using.
So what does it take to be an energy advisor?
“You have to love people. You have to really have a heart for people – genuinely care,” says Katy, a mother of five and a student at Western Governors University.
Robert, who has two children and refers to himself as a ‘calm guy,’ says that he puts himself in the customer’s position and treats the person as he’d want to be treated.
Both energy advisors speak of the teamwork among their peers and of being a close-knit team.
“We have good chemistry,” says Robert. “We help each other out, and though we remain focused on our work, we try to make time to laugh and joke around with each other.”
Katy and team treated to makeover
In her leisure time, Katy enjoys doing small-scale interior design jobs. She’s done kitchen and bathroom remodels for her mom and her mom’s friends to make their homes more modern, comfortable and livable.
While Katy is used to helping with home makeovers, this week – which happens to be Customer Service Week – she and her coworkers are basking in their at-work makeover. The Northside walk-in center where they meet with customers face-to-face has a new fresh look, making the area more inviting for our team members and customers alike.
“I really like it. It’s bright and colorful. It shows people more of what we’re about,” Katy said, adding, “A lot of people were confused on where to go when they walked into our center. There’s now more signage that makes it easier for them to follow.”
The center now features colorful shades of blue and orange – our Company’s colors. Imagery helps tell our Company’s story and shows the type of work we do, while the new signage helps direct customers and gives them valuable information about things like Manage My Account. Messaging can be easily changed so our customers are getting new info.
Plans are in the works to give our other three walk-in centers a fresh, new look by year’s end.