MARYSVILLE — Mayor Jon Nehring proudly named the city's Utility Billing team as employees of the month for June.
The team in City Hall — composed of Financial Operations Manager John Nield, Sherry Buell, Shauna Crane, Bet Galde, Teri McCann and Roberta Schneider — was praised for their outstanding customer service, as well as ideas that Nehring credited with reducing the number of shutoffs due to unpaid utility bills.
Utility Billing Team members have put customers first with a combined service of more than 30 years, according to Nehring at a recent City Council award presentation. Besides handling utility billing services for water, sewer, garbage and surface water, the team also manages the City Hall switchboard, provides front counter service and handles programs like the city's utility tax rebate.
Nehring said that, as individuals, all of the staff members have dedicated themselves to enhancing the level of customer satisfaction, and leaving customers with the feeling that their expectations have been met, even if the answers aren't always what the customers were hoping for.
The Utility Billing team was also recognized for their creative solution to address a customer service issue on the rise. The billing department began experiencing higher volumes of shutoffs — 80 to 100 per week, up from the previous range of 40 to 60 — and at first, they thought it was probably due to the economy and the auto-dialer not working well with cell phones. However, as Utility Billing team members began making inquiries to customers, they found that the original bills were not being opened, and those that were shut off thought they had not received their bills, even though late notices and final shutoffs are sent each week after overdue bills.
The Utility Billing team discussed several options to remedy this, and eventually settled on a cycle of three bills in different colors during the standard bi-monthly billing period; first a white notice, followed by a pink late notice for past due, and finally, a yellow shutoff notice warning that water would be shut off if payment wasn't completed or arrangements made with the Utility Billing department.
Nehring explained that this method has been in place for about eight months, and each week now has less than 30 shutoffs, a far cry from the high 80-100 average of before.
The Utility Billing team receives a letter of appreciation from at leas one customer a month, and they receive many compliments from customers over the phone and in person.
Utility Billing team members are also active in community service, including the American Cancer Society Relay For Life, as well as the annual garage sale and car wash fundraiser in the City Hall parking lot, and they volunteer in the schools and with youth sports.
"We congratulate the Utility Billing team for the incredible job they do to provide the best possible service to our customers, with honesty, integrity, compassion and fairness," Nehring said.