Customer Service Week Spotlight: Leslie Torres

Last but certainly not least, we have one final Customer Service Week interview to close out our week of celebrations. Today’s featured representative is Leslie Torres!

 

How long have you been with Aqua?
I have been with Aqua for 10 years as of September 18th! Double digits, baby!

What is it like to interact with Aqua’s customers? What makes them unique?
We never know what situation we are going to encounter when we answer a phone call. Aqua’s customers come from a diverse range of locations, which allows us to work with a large variety of different personalities. Our customers are unique because they’re so diverse from one another.

 

Has working in customer service improved your people skills outside of Aqua America? 
Absolutely! I now have a ton more patience than I did prior to working in customer service. Speaking with customers every day has also made me a better listener; I pay more attention to detail and am able to notice things I would have otherwise missed in the past. Additionally, working in this industry has made me far more flexible — I am better able to solve problems and adapt to seemingly difficult situations. 

Has working with Aqua’s customers impacted your life outside the workplace? How so?
I always run into customers outside of work! I have been stopped while grocery shopping or out to dinner with my family; I have found myself answering customer service questions outside of the workplace more often than I could have ever imagined.

 

Whenever I do encounter a customer outside of Aqua, I always treat them just as I would in the office: with kindness and respect.

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Customer Service Week Spotlight: Kelli Hodges

Continuing our Customer Service Week series, today we’d like to introduce you to Customer Service Representative Kelli Hodges! Let’s get to know her.

 

How long have you been with Aqua?

I started in a temporary position with Aqua back in July of 2009, and was hired on full-time in November of that year!

 

What is it like to interact with Aqua’s customers? What makes them unique?

Aqua customers are truly one of a kind. Dealing with an ever-present utility, I find that I am learning about the lives of people from all walks of life, an experience I find very rewarding.

What challenges have you overcome in order to provide quality customer service?

I have learned that it is sometimes necessary to pause, take a step back and give a customer the space to share their feelings, even if I have already determined the reason for their call. A lot of the time, customers need to express their emotions, and they use customer service representatives as an outlet to do just that.

 

We all need to be heard, and a major component to my role here at Aqua is ensuring that I’m listening to our customers’ needs and feelings, and driving home the fact that they know I’m here to support them.

What is the most rewarding thing about working in customer service?

The most rewarding thing about working in customer service is definitely helping customers find solutions and offering them options they didn’t even know they had. It may seem like such a minor thing for us, but we can make someone’s day and lift a huge weight off their shoulders with one short phone call. It’s an act I am very passionate about!

Has working with Aqua’s customers impacted your life outside the workplace? How so?

Absolutely. First and foremost, I have learned to develop a great deal of empathy and understanding in my relationships with others. Additionally, it is often the people we would least expect who may be having a hard time.

 

I believe that working in customer service has made me far more open-minded and sensitive of other peoples’ needs, thoughts and feelings.

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Customer Service Week Spotlight: Vicky Raines

The first week of October is nationally celebrated as Customer Service Week. Here at Aqua, we take every opportunity we get to recognize the impactful work of our employees, and this week is no exception. All week long we’ll highlight our remarkable customer service representatives with a special series of blogs.

Each day, the spotlight will shine on one of four featured Aqua customer service representatives. They’ll provide answers to questions about the industry and what it’s like to work with Aqua customers. Tune in this week for individual interviews, and get to know some of the people working to help you.

To start off the week, we introduce Customer Service Representative Vicky Raines!

 

How long have you been with Aqua?

have been working at Aqua for more than 7 years! 

 

What’s it like to interact with Aqua’s customers? What makes them unique?

Working with our customers is like driving a car — it may be a smooth ride, but you can hit the occasional bump or end up driving over uneven roads. Other times, a customer will call because they don’t understand their bill and need a walkthrough or further explanation. Interacting with Aqua customers is unique in that we spend a lot of time educating them about their water service rather than merely spewing out general information. 

 

What is the most rewarding thing about working in customer service?

Knowing that you made a difference—that you were able to stop a situation from escalating or made it so a customer has a better understanding of an issue. When you can turn someone’s day around, you know you’ve done your job. The information you are providing may not always be what the customer wants hear, but how you deliver the message will determine the customer’s reaction, willingness to listen and the outcome of the call. Have I mentioned that I love my job? 

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Do You Remember the Very First Week of September! – Labor Day Appreciation

We can’t believe it’s September already. What happened to summer – the camping trips, the beach weekends, the barbeques?

We actually shouldn’t be lamenting just yet. There’s still Labor Day! And that means one last hurrah before the leaves start to change and the kids go back to school. This weekend is the perfect time to get together with friends and family and have one more party with fireworks.

So, as we begin to end this incredible summer, we want to take some time to thank and recognize our employees – and every other loyal worker – and thank them for their hard work and dedication. 

Thank you to our crews who work around the clock to respond to emergencies and ensure water service through even the harshest of conditions. Thank you for your diligence and commitment to outstanding service through long hours and unpredictable circumstances to keep clean water flowing from our household taps.

We also owe our thanks to those in other industries who enable us to have the quality of life we appreciate now. Thank you to the carpenters who build our homes and the electricians who climb our power lines during thunderstorms.

These men and women have time and time again demonstrated a true devotion to their work. So, as we take this weekend to enjoy ourselves— let’s also show our appreciation to those who make our lives easier.

 

Thank you from Aqua America!

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The First-Ever Backhoe Challenge

As Aqua America celebrates 130 years of providing high-quality water service, it’s a good time to acknowledge what keeps us going strong: the Aqua employees

From engineers to customer service representatives to support coordinators and beyond, there’s a great group of people behind the water delivered to millions of people every day. That’s why every summer, we spend time at our annual company picnic. 

This year marked something new; something Aqua employees had never seen before. It was the first ever Backhoe Challenge.

 

What do you think looks the most difficult about this picture? Picking up a two-ounce egg with a spoon, OR picking up that same egg with a spoon that is attached to a 17,000 pound, 24-inch backhoe bucket? If you thought it's the latter, you're probably right. Which is what made the Backhoe Challenge such a fun challenge for the Aqua team! 

This inaugural event occurred during our annual company picnic that took place this year on July 21 at the Springton Reservoir, about 40 minutes north of Philadelphia.

It was designed by construction equipment vendor John Deere, and coordinated by our very own director of fleet and supply chain management, Charlie Stevenson, manager of fleet maintenance and compliance, Silvio DeAngelo and manager of Great Valley operations, Mike Filli. 

The idea was to represent all three Southeastern Pennsylvania operating divisions by dividing teams into two. This was determined by each division’s individual competitions that were held a few weeks prior to the finals. The winners were chosen by whichever operators successfully completed the events in the least amount of time. It was definitely a competition worth watching!

There were three events in the competition. Each involved the backhoe in some way or another. 

 

Round 1: The Egg Challenge 

The first event was the egg challenge, as seen above. The objective was to use a tablespoon that was attached to one of the backhoe bucket teeth, on the right side of the operator’s perspective. The operator had to pick up the egg from a sand mound and transport it to a hay bale on the left side of backhoe without breaking the egg. If the egg was broken, they had to start all over again. 

Just wait because it gets even more challenging.

 

Round 2: Balancing Balls  

For the second event, operators were required to move at least three of six, 10-inch diameter balls from atop equally-spaced safety cones with stabilizing cups.

To make matters even more difficult, the cones were lined up on the right side of the operator and the balls had to be placed in a tub located on the left side of the operator. At the end, they were required to return the bucket to the starting board. If the challenge was not completed correctly, they were asked to start over and wait for the cones to be reset.

 

 

 

Round 3: Joining Cylinders 

For the third event of the challenge, operators were required to use a chain with an s-hook attached to the backhoe bucket. They had to hook a vertical cylinder, about the size of a soda can, and move it to a receiving cylinder, which was not much larger 

The vertical cylinder had to be placed at least two thirds of the way into the receiving cylinder. In order for the challenge to be complete, the operators had to disconnect the cylinder and take the empty backhoe bucket back to the starting board.

 

The event seemed to bring everyone together, creating an undeniable energy during the competition. Great Valley manager, Mike Fili, who assisted in constructing the courses, says “There was a great sense of competition and boasting from them in the weeks leading up to the competition. They were talking smack about how they were going to beat one another. They had a lot of fun.”

Silvio DeAngelo saysthat while those competing made it look easy, it was not, as some of the participants had not operated these machines (daily) in years

 

“Even with training, not everyone can operate a backhoe. It requires great hand-eye coordination as well as a great sense of touch. Operators have to watch closely what the bucket is doing, and be even more diligent when using pilot control,” says  DeAngelo.

 

 

And the Winner Is...

The overall winner was theEastern division maintenance crew leader, Joe Sciallis, who admitted the most difficult challenge was the chain and cylinder. He had the honor of taking the Backhoe Challenge trophy back to the division's Willow Grove office.

Vice president of network, Marc Lucca, jokes that the Willow Grove division manager, Rob McNamara, will “bring the trophy to the division managers’ meetings just so they are all reminded of the current Backhoe Challenge Champion.”

It is safe to say that the first-ever Backhoe Challenge was an incredible success! It will be back at next year’s picnic with new and exciting challenges so stay tuned.

 

Learn more about the people behind Aqua’s water service here.

 

 

 

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