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Customer service is a heartbeat away at CPW

By Jim Fair, Editor
Published on Sunday, September 25, 2011

Fredia Snow pointed to her heart and said, “Customer service comes from here.”
Customer service at Greer Commission of Public Works (CPW) is high tech, traditional and personal.
Entering the lobby at CPW, customers already get the once-over for friendliness. Employees are greeted with "How are you doing? How’s the family?” and it leads to discussions on the customer’s health and usually ends with smiles and waves. “We get to react to people, take time to listen and learn our customers,” Snow said.
“It’s a great thing when customers come in to pay their bills. They want to say hi and talk. We get to know them and their families and they get to know us,” Snow said. “I like to think of us as “Cheers” where everybody knows your name. No matter where you go your name is your most valuable possession it means everything because your ancestors built that name.”
Snow said customer service is as much educating clients on CPW’s services than being problem-solvers.
Technology facilitates customers
CPW has taken pride in being in the forefront of its peer utilities in embracing technology to make its production and employees’ jobs efficient.
“I’ve been to conferences with much bigger customer bases,” Snow said. “When we begin talking about technology, people look at our company and say, ‘You’ve got it going on.’”
Credit card payment programs are available from home at CPW’s automated system. CPW’s auto pay has also made it possible to make a payment via cell phone with a credit card. Snow said it is only a matter of time before CPW will produce an app on smart phones to pay bills.
A check scanner in CPW’s business office allows for direct deposit instead of carrying the deposits to the bank. And the status of the financial reporting is current.
CPW has installed remote connection and disconnect meters, which benefits the customer and utility. Customers acquiring CPW services benefit by not having a waiting period for a connection. And meters that have been disconnected for repairs, non-payment or other short-term reasons have instant access to remedy their power outage. The advantage is it eliminates the waiting period for a technician to physically enable or disable the power.
The human touch 
Routinely, CPW makes two automated phone calls to its customers before service is disconnected.  The first call is made the day after their due date and the second is made the day before their service is scheduled to be turned off. 
That’s where Snow comes in and is most effective.
Snow’s task is to help CPW clients when customer service is at its premium. There’s a myriad of reasons – health, economic, loss of jobs, credit woes – that bring Snow into a personal, yet professional, relationship.
“The last thing we want to do is turn people’s power off,” Nick Stegall, CPW general manager, said. “If there is nothing the customer is doing to help himself, there’s nothing else we can do.”
Snow said she understands how desperate some people are paying their bills. “We can come up with a solution and keep their power on,” Snow said. “There are so many reasons people can fall behind on their payments. I can look at their profile and see how something has changed in their life to interfere with their payment schedule. As long as some progress is being made we will find ways to work with people.”
“It takes a special person to do Freida’s job,” Stegall said. 
“I take our customers’ pain home,” Snow said. “It’s almost like customers faces are in front of you.”
Snow describes customer service as a person’s passion to work with people in all kinds of situations. “I think it’s inside of me the way my mind and heart works,” Snow said. “Why do I do all that? Because I would want someone to do the same thing for me. We at CPW are so blessed. We provide a service that is a necessity”
Snow said she advises people to agencies that can be helpful. “It’s humbling to come in here and ask for help. Sometimes I know agencies that may benefit a customer that may help make it easier for them to meet their financial obligations.”
“When our phone rings we should be among the happiest people in the world,” Snow said. “That means a customer wants our service. When it stops ringing, that’s when you should be concerned.”
CPW’s new hours are 7:30 a.m.  – 6 p.m., opening an hour earlier and later.

Businesses mentioned in this article.

Greer CPW

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