What resources do you use?

In a couple previous issues, I’ve written about postings on listservs I subscribe to. A subscriber recently asked me what listservs I subscribe to and this prompted me to think about resources for utility professionals.

Listservs

A listserv is an electronic forum where questions are posed by e-mail. Each listserv subscriber receives an e-mail, either for each post or in a condensed digest. They can then respond and participate in the dialog by replying to the e-mail.

I subscribe to the NC Water Listserv and the NC Finance Listserv hosted by the Environmental Finance Center at the University of North Carolina.

Environmental Finance Centers

In case you’re not familiar with the Environmental Finance Centers, they are an EPA sponsored network of nine regional, university-based locations that provide solutions to help manage the cost of environmental protection. For water, sewer and stormwater utilities, this includes assistance with rate setting and financing options.

I’m most familiar with the Environmental Finance Center at UNC because of its proximity and I’ve participated in a number of their training sessions. If you’re not already familiar with the EFC in your region, I encourage you to research and see what it has to offer.

Rates dashboards

In addition to hosting listservs and providing technical assistance, the UNC EFC also provides a suite of tools, including a series of Rates Dashboards. These dashboards allow utilities to compare their rates and affordability with other utilities in the state.

Rates dashboards are available for the following states and Canada:

If you are located in one of these states or Canada, I encourage you to experiment with the dashboard and see how your utility compares to other utilities in your area.

What resources are most helpful for you?

As a utility professional, what resources have you found to be most helpful? Please give me a call at 919-232-2320 or e-mail me at gsanders@logicssolutions.com or post a comment below to let me know what resources you rely upon and I’ll share them in a future issue.

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© 2013 Gary Sanders

Why is customer service important?

In the last issue, I wrote about a utility’s innovative customer service policy of extending $25 courtesy credits to customers who received poor service.

That issue closed with the question “we’re a monopoly – why does customer service matter?” So, let’s examine some of those reasons.

It’s the right thing to do

Even if they can’t take their business elsewhere, your customers deserve to be treated with respect and receive good customer service. Granted, some customers have attitudes that make it difficult to want to help them, but good customer service representatives find a way to remain poised and explain the situation calmly.

It reflects positively on your organization

Excellent customer service reflects positively on your entire organization, from front line employees all the way to upper management. Providing poor customer service is truly a case of one bad apple spoiling the whole bunch.

It’s been my experience that employees who have a cavalier attitude about customer service generally approach the rest of their work in the same fashion. Do you really want a cashier who doesn’t care if they make change correctly or a billing clerk who isn’t concerned with a customer’s bill being correct?

You want your customers to speak well about your utility

Sooner or later, you will request an rate increase. For most utilities, this requires a public hearing, either before your board, or if you are a regulated utility, before your state’s utility commission.

The last thing you want is to have is your customers showing up to protest a rate increase by complaining about how they were treated by your staff.

How good is your customer service?

If you are interested in an objective, unbiased look at your utility’s customer service, please give me a call at 919-232-2320 or e-mail me at gsanders@logicssolutions.com to learn how a business review could assist you with the process.

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© 2013 Gary Sanders