We all know what poor customer service looks like: multiple calls to resolve an issue, conflicting information, too many transfers and long hold times. UniSource Energy Services’ Customer Care team is working hard to avoid these pain points and exceed customer expectations.
“Our Customer Care team is always looking for ways to delight and surprise our customers with the best possible service when they contact us. We’re adjusting how we serve customers to be more responsive to their needs and resolve issues the first time they call us,” said Tashonda Betts, Manager of the Customer Contact Center. “We also want to speak with one voice so that customers receive the same consistent, accurate information no matter who they speak with.”
That’s no easy task, considering that UniSource has nearly 100 Customer Service Representatives (CSRs), including permanent and temporary or seasonal employees. The team fields more than two million calls every year. Besides answering incoming calls, CSRs also reply to more than 100,000 emails or letters each year, help respond to social media inquiries after business hours, and handle emergency calls during evenings and weekends.
One of the ways that Customer Care is working to meet customer expectations is by ensuring that most CSRs – both permanent and seasonal – are trained on every aspect of our company and account management. Previously, only permanent CSRs received comprehensive training. Now, even some seasonal CSRs complete the intensive eight-week training program.
The training covers a wide range of topics: placing service orders, billing and payments, setting up new accounts, pricing plans, energy efficiency programs and payment assistance, to name a few. They also learn to navigate our customer service software efficiently, allowing them to quickly find the information they need.
“We want to ensure we help the customer on their first contact – one and done,” Betts said. “Our CSRs learn everything they need to know from beginning to end to do that.” A few specialized CSRs handle more in-depth questions about residential solar projects and energy efficiency.
Empathy also plays a big part in stellar customer service. “We always try to put ourselves in the customer’s shoes and observe the Golden Rule of treating others how we want to be treated,” Betts said. “Understanding the customer’s circumstances goes a long way toward building trust and loyalty.”
To ensure adequate resources are available during peak call times, UniSource monitors call volumes and adjusts staffing levels as needed. For example, Betts said summer historically is the call center’s busiest time of year due to higher bills and outages caused by monsoon storms. But the suspension of service disconnections for non-payment during the summer has shifted their busy season. “Now, our higher call volumes are from November through May, so we ramp up our staffing levels beginning in September.”
Another way we’re working to improve service is by using customers’ input to adapt our programs and services or develop new initiatives. To meet customers’ expectations, UniSource plans to update some of our systems and offer new features that will make interacting and communicating with us easier and more convenient.
“Our customer-centric approach is at the heart of providing excellent customer care,” Betts concluded. “We want to be proactive and predictive at meeting their needs. Everything we do is driven by our desire to best serve our customers.”