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Category Customer Service

  • CS I Series 1 – Listening to Customers is the Key
  • Whether a customer is making a normal, everyday inquiry or is upset about a service issue, really hearing the customer is the key to the making a good impression and bringing the issue to a successful conclusion. People who feel as though they are being paid attention to (through active listening) are much more likely to be satisfied – even when the utility cannot completely fulfill their request.
    However, active listening is not easy. Most people have had training in speaking, reading and writing. Very few people have had formal training in listening well. Combine that with time constraints and the repetitive nature of customer requests and the results are not always positive.
    This webinar leads employees to a better understanding of the importance of listening in the service experience and gives them a simple, yet effective, system for actively listening to customers.

    Objectives:

    • Understanding the importance of actively listening to customers
    • Using techniques for active listening
    • Using listening skills to determine customer needs and lead to more successful conclusions for the customer and the utility
  • CS I Series 2 – Phrasing for Successful Conclusions
  • Communicating with customers in a positive way can be difficult – especially in situations where the customer service representative can’t tell the customer exactly what it is that they want to hear. Every service experience leaves the customer with an opinion of the service provider, the service received and the utility. Attendees need to be prepared to phrase answers to tough questions in a way that reflects concern and a positive service attitude. This course makes participants aware of the power behind their words and the way they use them.

    Objectives:

    • Understand the communication cycle and their role in clear communication
    • Identify causes of defensiveness
    • Be able to rephrase to promote clear understanding and lessen defensiveness
    • Facilitate open communications with internal and external customers
  • CS I Series 3 – A Professional Telephone Image
  • More and more service is being done by telephone with fewer and fewer people actually visiting the utility office. This means that to the customer or other callers (including legislators, vendors, board members, other VIPs), the entire impression of the utility comes from that voice on the other end of the telephone line. This puts pressure on the utility employee to develop excellent telephone skills and use those skills in each and every encounter. These skills include proper use of tone of voice and attention to speech patterns.

    Objectives:

    • Understand the importance of image presentation by telephone use
    • Learn the meaning of professionalism in handling incoming and outgoing telephone calls
    • Know the difference between voice and speech and how to use both in a positive way
    • Develop definitive methods for refining telephone service in answering, placing people on hold, transferring callers, taking messages and leaving messages so that the perception is of professionalism in every way
  • CS I Series 4 – Taking Angry Customers from Unreasonable to Reasonable
  • When customers are angry, they sometimes act in unreasonable ways. Anger amplifies feelings while inhibiting clear thought processes. When customer service representatives attempt to resolve service issues by trying to reason with unreasonable customers, the results are not good. In this course, employees are provided with a better understanding of the psychological effects of anger on a person’s behavior and learn a four-step process that helps the customer move from an unreasonable state of mind to a more reasonable one in which problem solving can take place successfully.

    Objectives:

    • Understand the effects of anger on a person’s state of mind
    • Be more aware of the futility of reasoning with an unreasonable person
    • Develop more confidence and learn to maintain better control of negative situations
    • Use a four-step process for helping a customer move from unreasonable to reasonable
  • CS I Series 5 – Serving Internal Customers – Working Together for Service Success
  • To serve a business’ external customers (the end users of their products and services), employees must work together in an atmosphere of mutual trust and support. Of the three dimensions of quality service – human, business and hidden – the latter might just might be the most important. The hidden dimension includes all those things that go on behind the scenes that the customers don’t see. These include the policies, procedures, rules, regulations, work flow and most importantly, the relationships of the business’ employees. Without the hidden dimension being in good working order, service to the external customers always suffers. This course will give the attendees an overview of their part in this important dimension and focus on how to build and maintain good working relationships.

    Objectives:

    • Identify their role in the hidden dimension of service
    • Make a guarantee to do their part to their company, its management, their co-workers and themselves
    • Use a variety of skills and actions to build and maintain good working relationships
  • CS II Series 1 – Positive Attitudes – A Positive Workplace and Great Service
  • In a recent national survey, companies were asked: What counts more: employee aptitude – hard skills and technical competencies – or employee attitude – soft skills including motivation, commitment and communication? Nearly 60 percent of organizations responding ranked attitude as the No. 1 concern. As attitudes deteriorate, so do commitment, loyalty and, most importantly, performance.

    Objectives:

    • Increase understanding of the importance of attitudes to personal and organizational success.
    • Improve ability to develop and keep a more positive attitude
    • Improve understanding of themselves and the people with whom they work and who they serve and how to better relate to them and, consequently, how to be a more positive influence in the workplace
  • CS II Series 2 – Helping Customers Understand Usage and Conservation Measures
  • Although electricity is one necessity that Americans cannot do without, many consumers are remarkably uninformed and misinformed on how to understand and control their energy usage and bills, how the utility designs its rates and what to do to make their homes more energy efficient. Since most Americans take what utilities provide for granted, they do not realize the true value of the reliable service and relatively low cost of electricity. Couple the consumers’ emotions with a basic lack of knowledge and scams perpetrated by companies who falsely advertise the benefits of their products/services and serving these consumers can be challenging.

    Objectives:

    • Improve ability to assist customers in understanding their bills and the utility’s rates
    • Gain knowledge and expertise to communicate in a more professional and credible manner
    • Enable to explain myths and scams in relation to energy efficiency
  • CS II Series 3 – Responding to High Bill Complaints
  • High Bills are the number one concern or complaint of all utility customers. As a result, when consumers come calling with these concerns, it is the biggest opportunity that the utility has to serve, to assist and to educate these customers. It is also one of the biggest challenges. Because they deal with so many of these types of complaints, utility reps can become almost robotic in their responses and serve with a lackadaisical or jaded approach. For all the information available to the general public, most people are still highly biased against the utility, feeling that it is the utility’s “fault” that their bill is so high and not taking any responsibility for their usage. This can lead to a certain amount of defensiveness on the past of the utility’s employees as well.

    Objectives:

    • To help representatives look at these types of complaints in a different light by understanding the “human dimension” to the complaint
    • To explore the reactions that customers have, the level of customer knowledge and the results that customers want
  • CS II Series 4 – Dealing More Positively with Stress and Stressors
  • Everyone talks about being “stressed out” but how many people really know exactly what stress is and how it really affects them? In this course, stress will be explored from all angles – what it really is, what effects it has, where it comes from for the individual and how we sometimes make ourselves more vulnerable to stress with poor coping skills.

    Objectives:

    • To lead attendees to see past behavior patterns which may not have served them very well through interaction and self-evaluation
    • To explore the responses to the stress of change along with other individual sources of stress
    • To assist each attendee in developing a strategy to deal more positively with stress through a discussion of time tested tips and techniques
  • CS II Series 5 – The Importance Of Body Language In Service
  • People who can listen with their “eyes” as well as their ears are better able to relate to others and to better respond to their needs. All human beings have the innate sixth sense which enables them to form impressions of others very quickly. In this session, that sixth sense will be “re-awakened” and given substance by learning signals passed from human being to human being by way of shared body language. This will enable the service providers to really “tune in” to their internal and external customers and to respond not only to what it is they are asking for but in a way that lets the customer feel a connection to the employee. This will result in the customer having a much better experience with the provider and the organization.

    Objectives:

    • Foster a better appreciation of how body language can help the service provider be viewed as more sincere, more caring, more credible and more professional
    • Be adept at reading signals sent by others through facial expressions, eye movement, hand gestures, body position and outward “symbols” such as dress and surroundings
  • CS in the New Business Environment Series Session 1 – Understanding the New Consumer and Business Environment
  • Utilities have, for the most part, focused on their long-time purpose of providing safe, reliable energy at the lowest possible rates. Although, that purpose remains important, the customers they are serving and the way in which that service is delivered have certainly changed and are continuing to change.
    The make-up of the customer base is increasingly diverse in a number of ways. Customers’ expectations have changed along with their demands. Technological advances are happening more and more rapidly. Regulatory shifts, economic factors, increasing demand for energy all combine to create new pressures and challenges that must be addressed.
    To meet the challenges, front-line customer service providers must understand these changes and challenges and appreciate the importance of responding in a professional and expert manner.
    The course will help service professionals understand and appreciate the diverse demographics of customers (age, generations, ethnicity, race, culture, etc.). Technological drivers will be discussed so that attendees understand how the service they establish for their consumers fits into the concept of the smart grid. Multiple other challenges and changes will also be covered.

  • CS in the New Business Environment Series Session 2 – Changing Consumers – Changing Competencies
  • Customer Service professionals have always been required to act in a flexible manner to work with and on behalf of their customers. But as the industry and customers change, so must providers change themselves from the inside out. This evolution calls on utility professionals to think differently about the roles they play in the customers’ lives and how these roles may change their job descriptions.
    Utility representatives must develop new competencies in all the dimensions of service – human, business and hidden dimensions. Never has the importance of providing seamless service across the organization from an intradepartmental and interdepartmental viewpoint been more relevant.
    This session will focus on how customer service professionals can develop a more flexible, open approach to service, to their customers and to working in the context of constant change. Removing customer dis-satisfiers through an understanding of customers’ expectations will also be covered. Techniques for developing partnerships across departmental lines will also be discussed.

  • CS in the New Business Environment Series Session 3 – What the New Utility Customers Want from Us – Engaging and Building Loyalty in Utility Customers
  • Engaging the new energy consumer is becoming more imperative for utilities. However, for many utilities, this is also a definite challenge. For the most part, customers of today have never experienced life without the benefits of the services provided by utilities. Combine that “take for granted” attitude and a general lack of knowledge of how utilities work to provide their product/service with a “business as usual” attitude from the utility’s employees and you get a customer who is more than likely disengaged.
    So, engaging and building loyalty through long-term satisfaction in these “new” utility customers requires innovative approaches that go beyond the traditional utility experience. This program will explore how fulfilling consumer’s basic needs, although still important, is not enough. Tips and techniques for personalizing service and becoming more relevant to the consumer will be shared. Engaging Generation C – the Connected Customer (not an age group; but a lifestyle) will be stressed.

  • CS in the New Business Environment Series Session 4 – Transforming Energy into Top of Mind – Actionable Insights to Redefine the Utility’s Role in Customers’ Lives
  • Utilities have always been an important part of their customers’ lives, adding to their quality of life through service at their homes, businesses and industries and through involvement in the communities they serve. The new energy environment and consumer call for a redefined view of that involvement and actions that should be taken to enhance the utility’s role in their consumers’ lives and bring the value of the utility’s service into front-of-mind awareness.
    This class provides insight into specific actions that the utility and its employees can take to provide personalized experiences across the full spectrum of consumer segments. Although this may sound daunting and expensive, less can be more when all employees understand how to apply skills and tools to ensure that each experience positions the utility positively in the customers’ mind. Techniques for redefining the consumer experience – at the utility’s office, on the telephone, at the consumer’s location and through technology – will be covered.

  • Key Account Webinar Series 1 – The What and Why of Key Accounts
  • Although utilities seek to provide ALL their customers with the most reliable service at the lowest possible rates, there are some customers who require special services and attention. While the threat of deregulation has passed in varying degrees in most states, the threat of competition for customers who represent larger loads is still very real. These customers may represent a small percentage of actual customers but account for a large percentage of load and kilowatt hour sales and, as a result, revenue. This series will provide attendees with the basics of designing a key accounts program or tweaking their existing program so that small and large utilities can leverage their existing resources for improved relationships with Key Accounts.
    This session will focus on the basics of a key accounts program.

    Concepts covered will include:

    • Why Designate Key Accounts – Is There a Need at Your Utility?
    • Defining Key Accounts Parameters
    • Identifying Your Key Accounts
    • What do Key Account Customers Expect?
  • Key Account Webinar Series 2 – Steps to a Successful Key Account
  • This session will expand on the first session’s concepts and provide attendees with a step-by-step plan or framework to follow in designing, implementing and measuring the success of a Key Account program.

    Concepts covered will include:

    • Twenty-Steps from Inception to Success
    • Tools for tracking customer expectations and experiences
  • Key Account Webinar Series 2 – Steps to a Successful Key Account
  • This session will expand on the first session’s concepts and provide attendees with a step-by-step plan or framework to follow in designing, implementing and measuring the success of a Key Account program.

    Concepts covered will include:

    • Twenty-Steps from Inception to Success
    • Tools for tracking customer expectations and experiences
  • Key Account Webinar Series 3 – The Successful Key Accounts Representative/Manager
  • This session will focus on the qualifications and skills that key account representatives or account managers need to expand their capabilities in meeting and exceeding key accounts’ expectations.

    Concepts covered with include:

    • The Role of the Key Accounts Representative
    • Qualifications – Characteristics and Skills Necessary
    • Training and Orientation
    • Resources – Tools, Support Services and More
  • Key Account Webinar Series 3 – The Successful Key Accounts Representative/Manager
  • This session will focus on the qualifications and skills that key account representatives or account managers need to expand their capabilities in meeting and exceeding key accounts’ expectations.

    Concepts covered with include:

    • The Role of the Key Accounts Representative
    • Qualifications – Characteristics and Skills Necessary
    • Training and Orientation
    • Resources – Tools, Support Services and More
  • Understanding Utility Collections & Credit Issues
  • This webinar provides an overview of issues related to collection processes and credit issues in the utility industry – both from a legal aspect and from a human aspect. Attendees will have the opportunity to review their own utility’s policies, procedures and practices while learning about those of other utilities. Challenges will be discussed along with best practice strategies. Also highlighted will be skills to position the utility in a positive manner during negative customer interactions. This class will encourage the participants to review current procedures and past performance to prevent or reduce the number of potentially negative factors in all the processes.

  • What Every Utility Employee Needs to Know about Cooperatives and the Industry Series 1 – Co-op History 101
  • This five-part series is designed for new as well as more experienced employees to provide a greater understanding of the industry in which they are involved. One of the wonderful benefits of providing utility services the “cooperative way” is that the business is locally owned, locally operated and locally controlled. As a result, many times employees are focused on their job, their department, their cooperative and do not have a broader view of the industry – its history, the course the industry took from inception to modern times, what it means to serve according to the Seven Cooperative principles and the basics of electricity and the process of generating, transmitting and distributing electricity. More knowledgeable employees are more confident in answering the tough questions and can pass their new found appreciation of this special way of delivering service to the cooperative Members of today. Attendees will also be able to communicate better with other personnel and Members about technical matters which affect service.

    • Cooperatives as a Business Model
    • The History of Electricity in the United States
    • The History of Electric Cooperatives from their Birth in 1935 to Now
  • What Every Utility Employee Needs to Know about Cooperatives and the Industry Series 2 – The Seven Co-op Principles and Today’s Co-ops
  • This five-part series is designed for new as well as more experienced employees to provide a greater understanding of the industry in which they are involved. One of the wonderful benefits of providing utility services the “cooperative way” is that the business is locally owned, locally operated and locally controlled. As a result, many times employees are focused on their job, their department, their cooperative and do not have a broader view of the industry – its history, the course the industry took from inception to modern times, what it means to serve according to the Seven Cooperative principles and the basics of electricity and the process of generating, transmitting and distributing electricity. More knowledgeable employees are more confident in answering the tough questions and can pass their new found appreciation of this special way of delivering service to the cooperative Members of today. Attendees will also be able to communicate better with other personnel and Members about technical matters which affect service.

    • Today’s Electric Cooperatives and The Cooperative Difference
    • The Seven Cooperative Principles – What They Mean and Using Them Daily
  • What Every Utility Employee Needs to Know about Cooperatives and the Industry Series 3 – The Basic Principles of Electricity
  • This five-part series is designed for new as well as more experienced employees to provide a greater understanding of the industry in which they are involved. One of the wonderful benefits of providing utility services the “cooperative way” is that the business is locally owned, locally operated and locally controlled. As a result, many times employees are focused on their job, their department, their cooperative and do not have a broader view of the industry – its history, the course the industry took from inception to modern times, what it means to serve according to the Seven Cooperative principles and the basics of electricity and the process of generating, transmitting and distributing electricity. More knowledgeable employees are more confident in answering the tough questions and can pass their new found appreciation of this special way of delivering service to the cooperative Members of today. Attendees will also be able to communicate better with other personnel and Members about technical matters which affect service.
    Objectives

    • The Basics of Electricity – Understanding Voltage, Amps, Watts, Current, Resistance, AC and DC, Single and Three Phase
    • The Early Pioneers of Electricity
    • Generation and Transmission in the Americas – Interconnections, FERC, NERC and Regional Reliability Councils
  • What Every Utility Employee Needs to Know about Cooperatives and the Industry Series 4 – Generation and Transmission of Electricity
  • This five-part series is designed for new as well as more experienced employees to provide a greater understanding of the industry in which they are involved. One of the wonderful benefits of providing utility services the “cooperative way” is that the business is locally owned, locally operated and locally controlled. As a result, many times employees are focused on their job, their department, their cooperative and do not have a broader view of the industry – its history, the course the industry took from inception to modern times, what it means to serve according to the Seven Cooperative principles and the basics of electricity and the process of generating, transmitting and distributing electricity. More knowledgeable employees are more confident in answering the tough questions and can pass their new found appreciation of this special way of delivering service to the cooperative Members of today. Attendees will also be able to communicate better with other personnel and Members about technical matters which affect service.

    • Generation and Transmission of Electricity
    • Traditional Resources, Renewable Resources, RPS, the Grid, Transmission and Sub-transmission Lines
  • What Every Utility Employee Needs to Know about Cooperatives and the Industry Series 5 – The Distribution System
  • This five-part series is designed for new as well as more experienced employees to provide a greater understanding of the industry in which they are involved. One of the wonderful benefits of providing utility services the “cooperative way” is that the business is locally owned, locally operated and locally controlled. As a result, many times employees are focused on their job, their department, their cooperative and do not have a broader view of the industry – its history, the course the industry took from inception to modern times, what it means to serve according to the Seven Cooperative principles and the basics of electricity and the process of generating, transmitting and distributing electricity. More knowledgeable employees are more confident in answering the tough questions and can pass their new found appreciation of this special way of delivering service to the cooperative Members of today. Attendees will also be able to communicate better with other personnel and Members about technical matters which affect service.