Customer Service as Two-Way Communication

Can you picture customer service without telephones? This technology was invented in 1876 by Alexander Graham Bell and certainly made it easier for customers to communicate with businesses. Before the telephone, the only way to contact a business was to physically visit and meet with staff or to send a letter or other form of post. Of course, it’s far easier to ignore a letter sent from an irritated customer far away. The telephone (eventually) is what empowered the customer to reach the businesses they dealt with regardless of location and time.

In the decades since, customer service has developed through similar technological milestones. This evolution includes switchboards, rotary dial phones, call centers, interactive voice response systems, email, social media, and AI-supported customer interactions. However, the biggest shift in customer service might not be technology at all. Rather, it’s the general concept of customer service as a two-way conversation.


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PPE Inspections and Why They’re Important

“Better safe than sorry” has never meant more than it does when you’re working with dangerous equipment and materials. For a lot of utility workers, that’s a daily occurrence. Fortunately, these workers have personal protective equipment (PPE) on their side. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has specific requirements for PPE. For example, employers must identify and control physical and health hazards and provide employees with proper PPE for the job. But having PPE on hand is only half the equation. Today, we’ll discuss why PPE inspections are so essential and what should go into a PPE inspection policy.


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Three Tips for Managing Third-Party Contractors

While we’re all familiar with the most commonly cited ramifications of COVID-19, one that flies under the radar is the increased consumption of energy. As lock-down regulations swept the country, requiring people to spend more time at home, utilities saw a huge increase in energy usage. Even before the height of the pandemic, some utilities felt challenged to keep up with customer demand. This was especially true in areas where construction booms caused rapid swells in population. Many utilities have found that utilizing third-party contractors can be an effective way to bridge the gap.

Third-party contractors temporarily extend the company’s workforce and can help cover a wider regional footprint. But, how does a utility ensure that contractors follow organizational processes and maintain the utility’s reputation? If your utility is considering doing this, you’ll want to read our three tips for how to best partner with third-party contractors.


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Electrical Shock Prevention for Utility Technicians

When utility employees go to work every day, they know what they’ve signed up for. It’s a physical job, with tangible achievements at the end of the day. It can also be a dangerous job, especially when electricity is involved. In fact, more than 90% of electrical fatalities among U.S. workers occur because of electrical shock. Despite the risks, utility workers still hold the power when it comes to safety from electrical shock. If you or a technician on your team needs a refresher, check out our top tips for electrical shock prevention below.

Related: Stay Safe from Lightning This Summer with These Top Tips


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Top Five Self-Protection Safety Tips for Field Techs Working Outside

In most jobs, the occupational hazards are completely within the employee’s control. Those tasked with lifting heavy objects can wear a back brace or practice proper form. People who spend hours at a keyboard can take periodic breaks and stretch for mobility and joint health. But for utility field technicians, the great outdoors is the great unknown. Given their roles and responsibilities, it’s possible for field technicians to come in contact with poisonous plants and dangerous animals on any given day. Anyone working outside knows that outdoor protection is key to avoiding hazards such as bug bites and stings. In an effort to assist your field technicians with that kind of awareness, we’ve put together a list of five safety tips to keep in mind when working outdoors.


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The Importance of Infrastructure Maintenance

By now, the rapid aging of the current utility infrastructure in the United States is well-documented. Many have questioned the long-term operability of critical infrastructure mainstays like the power grid, noting how much of it has reached or exceeded its presumed lifespan.

The natural inclination is to want to overhaul and completely replace infrastructure, but various factors make that essentially impossible. In addition to the overwhelming cost, the time it would take to complete such a task is astounding. To put this into context, it would take more than 200 years to complete a replacement of every natural gas pipe in the country. Though there’s no one right solution to the problem of aging infrastructure, but the most realistic approach is an unwavering commitment to sound maintenance.

The best way to extend the life of vital assets and infrastructure is to keep them in the best possible condition. And the best way to keep something in an optimal condition is to practice proactive maintenance.


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Building an Empathetic Customer Service Team

A customer’s journey encompasses much more than the exchange of money for goods or services. It’s about filling needs, solving problems, and completing tasks. But the reality is that each customer’s journey is subject to hiccups along the way. A fact that underscores the importance of a commitment to offering superior customer service.

Related: Utility Customer Satisfaction Improves With Tech

In recent years, one of the traits most synonymous with superior customer service has been empathy. Empathy is the ability to understand or feel what someone else is experiencing. This social skill has become a must-have on customer service agent job descriptions as businesses work to meet heightened customer expectations. As we explore customer empathy for better customer service interactions, here are some tips to relay that can help agents better connect with customers.


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Safety Considerations: Three Tips for Preventative Maintenance

What are two things that heavy machinery like bucket trucks, digger derricks, excavators, and cranes have in common? They’re all expensive, and utility companies use them in the field to keep their systems running properly. Proper maintenance increases the lifespan of equipment and helps to ensure safe operation.  Processes and protocols developed around equipment are pivotal in any utility’s safety plan. You can reduce risk by following these three preventative maintenance tips. (more…)

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Active Listening for Easier Customer Service

These days, customer service is much more of an art than a science. Good customer service requires the agent to possess a variety of personality traits and skills. Some of those include friendliness and empathy. But what is the one customer service skill that shouldn’t be overlooked? Active listening.

Active listening is about more than hearing what the other person is saying and firing off an answer. It involves using all senses to perceive both verbal and non-verbal cues, digesting those indications, and then responding appropriately. For a lot of people, authentically and effectively engaging in active listening can be a challenge. If you think your team can improve in this area, we may be able to help with these five tips for active listening for customer service.  (more…)

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Dogs on Customer Property: Keeping Technicians Safe

For thousands of years, domesticated dogs have essentially been members of the family, providing unconditional love and companionship like no other animal. Despite the historical significance of “man’s best friend,” dog behavior isn’t always predictable. Unfortunately, many utility workers have learned this the hard way over the years. Still, there are plenty of things utility companies can do to keep Rover at bay and their technicians safe while working. Here are a few essential ways to prepare your field technicians for working with a dog on the premises. (more…)

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