By NICHOLAS SAKELARIS | CoServ
Connie Schmitz puts on her headphones, clicks a button on one of her three monitors and answers the phone.
“Thank you for calling CoServ. How may I help you?”
A CoServ Member is calling in saying his business has dropped lately and he has a past-due balance he needs to pay on his commercial account and needs a few more weeks to pay this month’s balance.
Within a matter of minutes, Connie has taken his payment and arranged for another month to pay his existing balance. Her soothing voice assures the business owner that his account is protected and he will not be disconnected.
Connie, who has been a CoServ Customer Care Specialist for eight years, takes pride in solving Members’ problems.
Like many CoServ Employees, she’s working at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic. She was the Employee who coined the phrase “It’s not where we are, it’s who we are,” which became the theme for the 2020 Annual Meeting.
“Sometimes people will ask, ‘Are you in Texas?’” Connie said. “I think that makes them feel better to know that we’re all local.”
With her 12-year-old yellow Labrador Chloe at her feet and her fireplace cracking and popping on a chilly April morning, she addresses a wide range of questions and concerns from CoServ Members, both residential and commercial.
She cries with them. She laughs with them. And she shares in their accomplishments. When she encounters a particularly difficult phone call, Chloe will climb up on the couch and rest her head where Connie can pet her.
“One Member called in to say, ‘I got a new job and I wanted to call CoServ first because you all worked with me when none of my other bill companies would. You haven’t disconnected me, you’ve given me payment arrangements, you’ve given me suggestions,’” Connie said as she recalled the phone call. “I’m glad I was at home because she had me all teary-eyed by the end of it.”
Connie is a pro at assisting Members with concerns about their high bills. She walks them through the various tips she’s learned that can help people save electricity. Connie also lets Members know they can set up alerts so they will be notified if their usage exceeds a certain amount.
She knows all too well the value of these alerts because she’s a CoServ Member, too. She got a notification a few years ago warning that she’d used 238 KwH in one day at her home, more than twice the usual amount. Her supervisor, Stephen Meers, Director of Customer Operations, recommended she have her air conditioner inspected. Sure enough, the repairman found that the heat strip had gone bad and the air conditioner was working overtime.
“If I hadn’t gotten that alert, I would have gone through the whole billing cycle without knowing there was a problem,” Connie said.
Connie also takes calls from Members who are just joining CoServ and are questioning why they don’t have a choice in electric providers. As an ambassador for the co-op, Connie said she talks about being in the CoServ community, exceptional reliability and the benefits of being a Member-owner.
She said those conversations make a difference: “Years down the road, I might get the same person back on the phone for something and they’ll say, ‘I didn’t want CoServ at first but I sure am glad I have CoServ now.”