Member services headlines efforts to assist members year-round
Through the years, Wiregrass Electric Cooperative (WEC) and its members have made critical contributions to the community while weathering hurricanes, tornadoes, and the occasional snowstorm.
In March the Wiregrass faced a different obstacle, the coronavirus pandemic. And once again, WEC, its members and its employees shined in facing the challenges.
Everyone — including cashiers, member care representatives, linemen, and more — worked diligently to provide the high-quality, reliable service WEC members expect and deserve. For WEC members, some of the most visible and critical points of contact were the professionals of the member services department.
“Our member services department’s wonderful response to the recent challenges reflect some of the reasons why Wiregrass Electric maintains a 9 out of 10 satisfaction rate. This is our highest score ever” says Brad Kimbro, WEC chief operating officer. “In emergencies or a typical day, our members are the reason we say, ‘Just enough isn’t enough.’ We always endeavor to find solutions that work best for our members, both individually and as a cooperative. Our members are the only reason we are here and they are our reason for everything we do here!”
Member services representatives such as cashiers in the office or member care representatives in WEC’s call center are often the first to receive and respond to requests for help. These employees address member concerns in a variety of ways, whether that means helping with a few extra cleanings inside WEC’s lobbies or addressing billing concerns.
“Even though we routinely and daily clean areas like kiosk touchpads and service windows, we felt it necessary to increase our efforts during the pandemic,” says Rhonda Webb, member services manager. “At WEC, we always promote the healthiest of environments for the safety of our workers and members.”
With some businesses slowing or shutting down, some members expressed concerns about an inability to pay their bills in full and on time. Member care representatives and member services representatives utilized a longstanding WEC policy — one that applies in all circumstances — to create solutions to help ease those concerns.
Solutions include making payment arrangements or offering referrals to several local organizations that provide utility bill assistance. These are utilized year-round during spikes in usage due to extreme temperatures or when tough personal financial situations arise.
“If they need anything, from advice on electrical bills and usage or payment arrangements, we’ll be here for them,” Kimbro says. “We’ll help everyone through their challenges.”
“We are here for our members always and we understand there are some difficult challenges facing our members through this COVID-19 Virus outbreak. We are here to help and we encourage our members to call us,” he says. “We will help any of our members through this difficult situation.”
Several programs WEC has instituted show the commitment to serving members well. For instance, WEC’s free energy audit program has benefited several in the community.
The nonprofit South Alabama Regional Council on Aging supports many programs that help the elderly, particularly through senior citizens centers. A free energy audit, plus some help from WEC on lighting upgrades, slashed the agency’s monthly power bills at its Dothan office nearly in half.
An energy audit at Jeffers, one of the nation’s premier animal supply stores, suggested placing timers on warehouse lights. The move saved the south Dothan company thousands of dollars, CEO Ruth Jeffers says.
After completion of energy audits, WEC offers programs to its members that help fund some of the more costly repairs or upgrades, such as new heating and cooling systems or new windows and doors. The energy efficiency loan program offers low-interest loans through Regions Bank to help members make energy-saving upgrades.
WEC also offers rebates that help owners of manufactured homes upgrade their heating systems to energy-efficient heat pumps.
The member services department also provides a variety of ways to conduct business with members and to keep them informed.
An interactive voice response phone system allows members to easily pay bills and accomplish other tasks related to their electric service. WEC’s website, wiregrass.coop, also offers a quick way to pay bills and review account information, and a wealth of information and updates can be found on the cooperative’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube pages.