MLGW working quickly to improve customer service experience

Published: Oct. 11, 2022 at 7:13 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The new vice president of Customer Experience and Energy Services at Memphis Light, Gas and Water (MLGW) is wasting no time making necessary changes to the company with customers at the top of his mind.

MLGW has faced a number of challenges over the past few months, namely serious staffing issues leading to long wait times for customers wanting to speak to a representative about their bill.

Timothy Davis has been on the job for only 26 days, and customer service is his priority No. 1.

“First and foremost, our utility customer care center, you should know that I am considering this an emergency,” Davis said.

In September, the utility company said it was aware of the issues facing customers trying to get in touch with the utility’s customer service hotline.

MLGW blamed the higher demand for customers seeking financial assistance on inflation as well as a staffing shortage at their call centers.

“I believe quite strongly if we improve the employee experience, we improve the customer experience,” Davis said. “I’m focusing on discovery, decisions, and execution... and once that’s been determined, I will commit, deliver and assess the effectiveness.”

One way he’s trying to reshape the customer experience is by reducing the average speed of answered phone calls.

MLGW President and CEO J.T. Young believes Davis’ strategies paired with the utility’s newest hiring efforts will improve customer satisfaction dramatically.

“Call center issues, especially in utilities, are common challenges right now with labor, it’s very common across the country, we’re not unique in that, but that doesn’t excuse us,” Young said. “That’s what I appreciate about Timothy and what his leadership is doing... to make sure that we are making things better.”

MLGW has filled 49 customer service positions so far.

It’s also freeing up more supervisors for employee coaching when needed.

“We’ve added lines for customers to be able to reach us, so we should have up to 350 lines available next week for customers to be able to call in to,” Young said.

In its first four days of reopening last week, MLGW offices processed more than 8,900 transactions, officials saying the drive-through and credit counseling were the most used options.

“Overall the customer experience should improve... [Davis’] got some internal things he’s doing with customer advocacy and escalation processes,” Young said.

MLGW will also likely see changes following its change in leadership.

On Oct. 5, Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland appointed MLGW’s current CFO as the company’s new leader after Young announced he accepted a new job offer in Florida.

Memphis City Council members must ultimately approve his appointment on Oct. 18.

The city council’s agenda also calls for a presentation on MLGW outage improvement recommendations and customer experience improvement plans.

Young’s last day with MLGW is Friday, Oct. 14.

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