Manager's Message: Why Do We Ask... ?
Guest column by Missy Robson, manager of customer service
Our offices and call center are designed to make it easy for you, our members, to ask questions and do business with us. We frequently train and cross-train and look for best practices to be efficient.
We think it’s important to eliminate as much paperwork as possible so we can take time with each of you when you need it.
We still end up asking YOU some questions, though. If you’ve ever wondered why we ask for phone numbers and passwords and other information, here’s why:
Why do we ask you:
• if your phone number has changed? If you call to report an outage, particularly after hours, our outage management system can recognize your account if the number you’re calling from matches the primary phone number listed on your account.
We also use your phone number to confirm your power has been restored, to notify you of a planned outage, or to contact you in case of some other service need.
• to set up an authorized user password on your account? To help maintain your privacy (and to meet federal and state consumer protection rules) we will only give out information to the member or joint member listed on the account.
If you would like someone else to have access to your information, whether they’re just checking on energy use or want to make a payment on your behalf, they will need to give us the password that you set up beforehand.
• to pay your energy bills automatically through your bank? We accept payments in many different ways, from cash at the front counters at Blanchard and Portland, to checks in the mail, to credit/debit cards via computer.
One of the most cost-effective ways to receive and process your payment is by having your bank set up to pay for you every month. When we send your bill to you, we also send an electronic instruction to your bank with the amount and due date. In turn, on the due date, they electronically transfer your payment to our bank.
You benefit because there’s no chance of misplacing the bill, no need to write a check or find a stamp, and no worries about paying a late fee.
You also benefit because each member who uses Autopay helps control the cooperative’s costs, keeping your rates stable.
• to stop getting a paper bill each month? We calculate it costs about $1.00 per month to print and mail a paper bill to you each month, since we include a return envelope.
Now that SmartHub, our new online account access program, gives direct access to a pdf file of members’ energy bills, many people are choosing to get their bill electronically instead.
You still have a file with an exact copy of the printed bill – you just don’t have to deal with the stacks of paper or filing, and it helps your cooperative control costs. That’s good for everyone!
We look forward to talking with you, whether you’re one of the hundreds who stop by our offices each month, or one of the many thousands who call us. (We record over 20,000 calls every month.)
Each of those calls is an opportunity to assist a member-owner of HomeWorks Tri-County, no matter who’s asking the questions.