Gloria Melendez, City of Riverside Customer Service Representative and SEIU 721 steward, displays her union pride and smile while answering calls at the Public Utilities Call Center. Having gone through a dry spring and hot summer, California is in the throngs of one of the worst droughts in recent history. Residents in Inland Southern California know all too well that, while water makes the desert green, it can also tax resources both financially and environmentally.
SEIU 721 City of Riverside members at the Riverside Public Utilities Customer Service and 311 Call Centers know they have to be extra cool and professional when the mercury soars.
Many customers are shocked when they open up their summer bills and call the customer service center hot under the collar. Often customers deny using appliances, especially their air conditioner, so the representatives talk to them about which appliances demand high-energy use and how to conserve water, in an effort to reduce their bills.
“The key to being a good customer service rep, is being a good listener. Only when you do that can you provide the customer with excellent service.” – Sammie Luna – SEIU 721 Steward and RPU Lead Customer Service Representative
Over the past few years, the City of Riverside has launched several green initiatives, including low flow sprinklers and shade tree rebates. This year also saw a spike in residents giving up their lawns to plant drought tolerant and native plants. Customer representatives in the city’s 311 Call Center field daily calls and emails about this new program as the rebates offered have increased.
“Residents can count on us to help with almost every situation. We try our best to get it done.” – Aurora Martinez, SEIU 721 member and 311 Call Center Customer Service Representative
More Resources for Residents
From free sprinkler heads to substantial rebates on energy efficient appliances, the City of Riverside has been pushing energy and water conservation for several years, however, with the recent statewide drought, the city has stepped up its conservation program by offering residents deeper incentives to pull up that turf and go au naturel. But even with the increased call volume SEIU 721 members have stayed upbeat and encouraging.
• Click here to read more about Green Riverside
The expansion of programs and the implementation of conservation measures mean that SEIU 721 members in the City’s 311 non-emergency call center and Public Utilities Customer Service Center have been fielding hundreds more calls every day.
BY THE NUMBERS*
• SEIU 721 members = 69
• RPU Calls Handled = 206,609
• 311 Call Center = 15,400 inquires a month including calls, email, mobile app and Internet contact
• Public Utilities Service website
• RPU contact number = (951) 782-0330
*Based on the first 6 months of 2014.