The first week of October is National Customer Service Week, and we’re proud to recognize the process and people that help ensure an outstanding member experience.
As a cooperative, PEC is member owned and governed. Our employees are part of the communities we serve and are committed to doing their best for their friends and neighbors. Setting a high bar starts with intensive training for new agents on our member relations team. The in-depth course consists of two weeks of instructor-led training and three weeks of hands-on phone mentoring.
Aquilina Riojas, PEC member relations employee development manager, says the ability to put yourself in the shoes of the member you are helping is an important part of every agent’s skill set. Our agents aim for a first call resolution, where the member’s problem is solved by the first employee they contact. “We challenge our employees to ask themselves, what can I do to help this member now, and what can I do now that may help them later?” Riojas explained. “As a department, we focus on the philosophy we call Think Like a Member™, and include it in all aspects of our training.”
Once a teammate completes new-hire development, their supervisor and colleagues support them with on-the-job learning through ongoing technical training and soft skills coaching, which helps develop interpersonal skills that make for positive interactions. The program is firmly established with PEC’s front-line staff, and we offer additional practice through a listening library and one-on-one support.
All that training leads to exceptional performance among PEC’s agents. Lusinda Castorena, a member relations agent in our Junction district was recently awarded the first True Blue Award for excellence in customer service. “I give 100% every day and always try to have a positive attitude,” Castorena said. “I’m passionate about my job, so I was honored to be recognized.”
Several members of the department’s leadership traveled to the Junction office to present the award, including Regional Member Relations Manager Robert Phillips. Phillips has been with PEC for over 17 years, and knows that treating your employees well is more than just the right thing to do — it also puts them in a better position to deliver great service. “If you do good by your folks, your folks will do good by you,” he said.
Providing excellent service means being understanding and seeking a resolution, no matter the situation. Agents sometimes have to navigate stressful situations in which members are distressed or even angry, like February’s winter storm. “I’m not going to sugarcoat it, we had some very angry folks,” Phillips said. “And some of it is understandable because there is fear involved. Our job is to understand and work with them.”
In the end, great service comes down to the attitude and competence of those providing it. “Our people make the difference,” Riojas says. “Day in and day out, never tiring, our employees provide an individualized experience for each and every member they come in contact with.”
At PEC, that’s what it means to put members first.