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Message for You...

Steven C. Hunt, President & CEO

As I sat down to write this month’s message, I decided to review 2015 and 2016 April messages and soon realized what a difference the weather has been thus far in 2017. I commented in the previous messages how brutal the winter had been the first three months of the year with freezing temperatures, snow, ice, straight line winds, and a tornado in our service territory.

Through March, the weather for winter 2017 has been rather mild. I am not complaining at all, because the older I get, the more “Old Man Winter” seems to cause havoc with these old bones. It still amazes me how I once laughed at my Dad when he would say something like that and now I am making the same statement to my kids and grandkids. I find this statement so very true: “just wait until you get to my age; then you will understand what I am talking about and it will not be so funny then!”

Member service options

I recently had a discussion with a member who expressed concerns about the wait time to speak with a member service representative (MSR). In 2016, our MSRs successfully handled an average of about 13,600 calls and about 17,100 office payments per month. That equates to more than 163,200 calls and 205,200 office payments for the calendar year 2016 — with a staff of approximately 21 MSRs.

The answer is not to hire additional MSRs, as this would simply add cost to you, the members.  The answer, quite frankly, is to reduce the number of calls and office visits by using the available technology we currently offer to better serve you. We have options/services that can provide you the same level of service without involving the time of our MSRs. For example, 50% of the total calls are simply account inquires such as account balances, due date, etc., which can be handled online via our Smart Hub application. Another 25% are payment arrangement requests that can be handled via automation through our IVR-automated telephone system. The in-house office visits for payment can be eliminated by various means with mail-in payment, drop box payment, money gram pay stations, IVR-automated telephone system, budget billing, monthly checking/card drafting, Smart Hub and Flex Pay.

You may not be familiar with some of these terms, but they are available and most important, free for every single LREMC member. Please take a moment during your next call or office visit to inquire on any or all of these services we offer for your convenience. Our goal is to reduce the call volume and office visits this year by utilizing the options/services already in place, thus freeing up our MSRs to function more in the role of your trusted energy advisor. It is our goal in the future to be more engaged with you, helping to educate and offer solutions on energy issues that will reduce your power bill. As a reminder, we are a not-for-profit organization, so the more we can reduce your power bill, the more we create a win-win situation for you, the membership, and Lumbee River EMC.

Last, but certainly not least, let me wish all a very Happy Easter! “He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again. ” Luke 24:6-7

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