Cooperative News

Training PEC member relations agents for success

Customer service by design

As a cooperative, PEC exists to serve our members, not to earn profits for shareholders. That’s why we work hard to ensure our agents provide you with excellent service anytime you need it. And it all starts with training.

New agents in the member relations department attend our six-week new hire development program. Our goal is for employees who complete this program to be well versed in what it means to be part of a cooperative, to learn PEC processes and expectations, and to step into their new role with enthusiasm and confidence. This in-depth course consists of three 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 contact 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.”

Trainees learn about every department in the cooperative. They also break down real, anonymized member interactions and discuss opportunities for improvement in courtesy, compliance, organization, forward motion, and creating a “defining moment” for the member.

Once a team member completes new hire development, their supervisor and team support their transition with on-the-job training on technical and soft skills. The department has an employee recognition program to reward outstanding employees for excellence in a range of soft skills, from teamwork and approachability to effective communication, ethics, and use of PEC’s Think Like a Member™ philosophy.

Agents are perpetually involved in the phases of preparation, notification, training, or implementation of several cooperative initiatives at a time. This means learning never stops for our employees, who must be able to answer questions, process requests, and handle escalations on all PEC matters.

“We are fortunate and proud to have two unique teams that operate seamlessly to bridge gaps and shore up communication in the department,” Riojas said. “The employee development and member experience teams work together to provide training and development that is not only consistent but sets the benchmark for excellent customer service.”

The member experience team analyzes feedback from members to identify pain points and develop process improvements. The employee development team takes these improvements and creates training materials, delivers training, and prepares staff for implementation.

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.