News : Frankfort Plant Board Loses Customer Service Director
Frankfort , KY, USA, Dec, 2017 -- Add customer service director to the growing list of vacant positions at the Frankfort Plant Board.
Monique Gilliam Avery left the municipal utility on Sept. 14, FPB spokeswoman Cathy Lindsey told The State Journal. Lindsey declined to publicly give the circumstances of Gilliam Avery’s departure, citing a policy of not discussing personnel issues. Gilliam Avery had been at the plant board since 2014.
Last month, the plant board also saw the departure of General Manager Herbbie Bannister and Assistant General Manager for Cable-Telecommunications John Higginbotham, both of whom retired.
"It’s been a little bit of wild November," said interim GM David Denton.
While Denton called customer service a "big focus," as the department’s members are "the face of FPB day to day," he has chosen to not immediately fill the vacancy.
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Instead, customer service supervisors Cassie Estill and April Rhodes are stepping in to fulfill Gilliam Avery’s duties in an already understaffed department.
Efforts to reach Gilliam Avery were unsuccessful.
Earlier this year, a Plant Board-sponsored survey of 532 customers who visited or called the utility between September 2016 and February found that while 75 percent of customers were "satisfied" with their most recent transaction, wait times on calls were a common complaint.
"The one thing that stood out most to me was the wait time," said market researcher Leanna Comer of Comer Research Consultants in May. "That scored very poorly and that was reflected in the comments. People said, ‘I had to wait to speak to someone.’ That suggests to me that there’s a need for additional resources. Typically that would be personnel, but it could also be better technology to handle the flow of phone calls."
In an interview with The State Journal, Denton said he is looking to minimize the time people spend waiting on the phone. His approach includes modernizing the account setup and billing processes so that they can be accomplished online more easily. As the plant board becomes more modern and efficient, "people will naturally have a better customer service experience," he said.
Denton is also considering bringing part of its after-hours customer service call center back in-house during widespread outages and other times when call volume spikes. The Plant Board currently routes after-hours callers to an out-of-state call center, which then relays messages back to the Plant Board.
"Customer service is not just a department, it is a culture embraced by an entire company," Denton said in a written statement. "My goal as interim GM is to foster a customer-centric approach for all employees. We have dedicated staff who are committed to serving this community every day, and we will focus on continued improvements at all levels to create satisfied customers."
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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