Customer service reps play crucial role in propane industry safety practices

September 20, 2018 By    
Despite their importance, CSRs may, in some cases, be underappreciated and undertrained. Photo:

Despite their importance, CSRs may, in some cases, be underappreciated and undertrained. Photo:

As propane professionals, you know your customer service representatives (CSRs) play a vital role in the success of your company.

They answer questions every day from current and prospective customers on topics ranging from cost, to tank placement, to delivery schedule. They maintain professionalism while handling tough calls, and they educate callers about propane. Their performance helps shape how your company is perceived.

Despite their importance, CSRs may, in some cases, be underappreciated and undertrained. That’s a mistake, especially because CSRs are on the front lines of safety, which means their actions can literally save lives.

A proper response to a caller who reports smelling gas, for instance, can make the difference between life and death, or costly litigation and staying out of court and the evening news.

Does your CSR know what to do if a customer calls and says she smells gas? Are they properly trained to ask the right questions to better determine whether a hazardous situation exists?

Make sure your CSRs are trained to do the following:

  • Deal with facts.
  • Avoid making assumptions.
  • Treat emergency calls like emergencies.
  • Stay calm.
  • Make sure that the customer has the complete safety message.

Then, in coordination with your company policies, if you have not already done so, you might want to provide training on how to respond to customer safety calls.

For example, if a customer calls about a suspected gas leak at home, consider having your CSR ask the following questions:

  • Do you hear gas escaping?
  • Do you smell gas throughout your home (or building)?
  • Are all pilots lit?
  • Has the furnace, stove, water heater or other appliance been moved recently?
  • Has the line been damaged?
  • Do you have the smell of gas all of the time? If yes, how long have you smelled gas?

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, in coordination with your company policies, consider having your CSRs read to the customer a script that may include the following:

“From the information you have provided, we ask that you eliminate and prevent all sources of ignition, including but not limited to the use of matches, the operation of electrical switches and telephones, including mobile phones, and to evacuate the home (building or other structure) to a safe distance. Once you have everyone outside, unless the leak is at your tank, you should turn off the service valve on the supply tank. A service technician will be dispatched to your location. Do not allow anyone except for a qualified gas professional or fire service personnel to enter your home until a complete inspection has been made and, if there is a leak, it has been repaired and only when that gas or fire service professional signals that it is safe to re-enter. Do you understand these instructions?”

Have the CSR document the caller’s response.

Clearly, your CSRs need to be equipped to deal with all sorts of propane-related issues daily. Their work is just as vital to your company’s reputation as the job done by your bobtail drivers and service technicians.

Let’s continue to treat them as the propane professionals they are.

Check out a video from PERC about CSRs.

Stuart Flatow is vice president of safety and training at the Propane Education & Research Council.

NOTE: The opinions and viewpoints expressed herein are solely the author’s and should in no way be interpreted as those of LP Gas magazine or any of its staff members.

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