The 2017-18 winter season was the stuff energy dealers dream of with its record-breaking frigid temperatures. However, it soon became a case of “be careful what you wish for” as the cold dragged on for several weeks. With nearly a quarter of a million homes dependent on propane as their primary source of heat, New York consumers began to complain to lawmakers about shortages and price gouging.
A recent blog post by Fuel Oil News details how one ill-fated phone call led to a media-fueled witch hunt that demonized the entire industry.
The result was nothing short of a domino effect; a cascading brown-out, in utility vernacular, that started as many like phone calls do in our business, but it spiraled out of control.
Shane Sweet – NY Propane Gas Association
Are your employees trained?
Energy dealers invest a lot of time and money into training delivery drivers and service technicians. But what about your front line personnel – especially those who are dealing with customers, both in-person and on the phone?
Gail Goodman, President of communications specialist and phone training company ConsulTel, has these tips to offer:
- Consistency is key – Everyone at the business should answer the phone in the same way.
- Never interrupt – Make sure that your team is trained to listen to the whole problem, no matter how long it takes.
- Get to know the hold button – Does everyone know how to use the features of your phone system?
- Then get to know the transfer button – Know how to transfer a call. Bring the other person up to speed so the customer doesn’t have to start over from square one.
- Keep customers informed – Give the client a list of what you’re going to do, and include a time frame.
- Smile when you talk to customers – Yes, people can hear you smile. It comes through in your voice.
- Learn how to handle angry and abusive people – Show empathy and let the customer know they have a right to be upset. They will feel understood and that you’re going to help.
Community Insurance Group offers an extensive hiring and onboarding portfolio that can help you lay out an employee training program for your business. Creating an effective onboarding plan provides employers with a solid starting point which they can communicate their values to employees and explain why they do what they do.
According to a study by the Wynhurst Group, employees who go through structured onboarding are 58% more likely to remain with the organization after 3 years.