As part of my ongoing efforts to recognize and reward companies who are “doing it right” with regard to social media, I’m proud to announce that my “Social Media Winner of the Week” is StarTex Power, my own electric company.
THE ORIGINAL ISSUE
Thanks to a not-terrific new phone system, we received an automated call the other day from StarTex asking us to call them back. I called, and I was informed that they had received my payment, but it was a few days late. Um…..thanks? I found this irritating, since there wasn’t even a payment due anymore. I told them to please take us off of that particular call list.
Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. We continued to receive DAILY calls from their robot operator for several days. I called today to speak with someone about this, and to find out why this was still occurring. I was told by the call center rep that she could fix this, if I could hold for a few minutes, so I waited.
She returned and told me that the reason the system was still calling was because of the outstanding balance (late fee). She corrected it, but she was also careful to tell me that if it happened again (i.e. if I were late for any reason), the calls would start. I asked if this could be changed, and she told me it couldn’t. I then asked when our contract with StarTex was set to expire, because I wanted to switch companies. After some more discussion, some of which was likely terse on my part, we got off the phone. And I tweeted about it.
Here’s what I said:
Dear StarTex Power, You just lost a customer (me) as soon as I can switch without penalty. Your customer service is abhorrent, IMHO.
Harsh? Perhaps. The truth? In my eyes, it was indeed true. The operative word here is “was”.
Wait until you hear what happened next…
While I was attending a local real estate conference here in Austin, I got an upbeat voice mail AND an email from Jennifer Bell of StarTex:
Good Afternoon Mr. Crouch,
My name is Jennifer Bell, and I am the Supervisor for the Office of the President at StarTex Power.
I received word of your account matter, and the purpose of this email is to ensure you receive a proper resolution and are a satisfied StarTex Power customer.
I have left you a voicemail message at the contact number we have on file.
Please call me at (xxx-xxx-xxxx) at your earliest convenience.
If email is easier for you, we can definitely communicate via email as well.
I look forward to assisting you.
Supervisor – Office of the President / Quality Assurance, StarTex Power
Needless to say, I called her back. We spoke for 15-20 minutes, and she…was…stellar. I don’t just mean that she was stellar because she helped me – I mean that she is likely one of the best service people I’ve yet encountered at any company by phone. She was engaging and friendly, and she explained that they had seen my tweet, and she wanted to help make things right.
She assured me that I would not receive any more of the irritating automated calls if a payment ever happens to be late, and she promised to monitor my account personally to make sure that the system didn’t trigger this for me. She also explained that this is a “911″ technical issue that they are working to repair. Good stuff.
Lastly, since I had signed up two years ago for their service and locked in a rate that now seems really high, she reduced my rate substantially. Overall, based on my household usage, I calculated that this will save me $1300 or more over the next year. WOW!
She went on to explain that there are some new nodal changes occurring in their industry, and that most companies will be passing these through to the consumer, but StarTex is price-protected so we won’t pay extra fees when that happens.
So, major thanks and props to Jennifer Bell and to StarTex. You are doing it right. You’re listening, and you care about people. I was seriously impressed, and I don’t often say that. I explained to Jennifer that both Bank of America and Sprint lost us as customers after roughly 13 years. Unless StarTex decides to raise their rates to crazy levels compared with other companies, they have a new customer evangelist in me.
Keep up the good work!