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Keeping Customers First Amid COVID-19 Impacts: The Approach We’ve Taken at Flint Energies

image credit: © Andrey Popov | Dreamstime.com

This item is part of the Special Issue - 05/2020 - Customer Care, click here for more

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has created a lot of concern and anxiety for utility customers, particularly those who have been financially impacted by the drastically changed business environment. While adjusting to this new normal and keeping customers first, Flint Energies has implemented a number of specific measures.

First, Flint Energies is offering several bill payment options though its COVID-19 Arrangement and Relief Extension (CARE) program. This initiative is aimed at those who have been impacted financially by the public health crisis. While the CARE program does not relieve Consumer-members of their obligations to pay for energy services, it does allow the Cooperative more flexibility with assisting members during this difficult time. In order to offer understanding and flexibility that customers need during these uncertain times, customers who have missed payments or past-due balances will have a handful of options for how to handle past-due options by the end of July, which include applying deposits to past-due balances, move outstanding balances into a six month payment plan, or shift towards a pre-paid account.

For those members that opt towards the pre-paid account, known as a Pay Your Way structure, Flint Energies is restructuring the debt management ratio from its current payment distribution ratio of 75 percent prepaid balance and 25 percent debt management to a new payment distribution ratio of 85 percent prepaid balance and 15 percent debt management through the end of 2020. This will allow more of each dollar a customer pays to go towards their current balance and allow for a greater amount of time for them to pay their debt management balance.

As a few final acts to offer flexibility to customers who may be struggling, Flint Energies is suspending late payment penalties and reconnect fees on all accounts through the end of July. Flint will resume disconnects for non-payment beginning on June 1 after suspending disconnects in April for both pre-paid and traditional residential and commercial accounts.

In the end, though Flint Energies is encouraging any Consumer-members that are unable to pay their bills to get in touch as soon as possible to discuss payment plans and options. Member Solutions Representatives have remained ready and eager to help customers. Flint Energies has also stressed to members who can pay their bill how important it is to do so, as that allows even greater support to be extended to fellow customers and community members in need.

The COVID-19 situation created much uncertainty and anxiety, but through it all Flint Energies has strived to keep customer care at the forefront of our actions. Through compassion, understanding, and flexibility, we want Consumer-members to know they’re not alone. Has your utility implemented similar measures during the pandemic? What was the feedback from customers? Is there anything you would have done differently? Share your thoughts in the comments below. 

Discussions

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on May 26, 2020

Great to see the proactive steps that were taken by utilities like Flint in the early days of the pandemic to really help out customers. This transition period into 'back to normal' certainly stands to be just as important, and it's comforting to know that the same level of care and deliberation are going into those decisions

Marian McLemore's picture

Thank Marian for the Post!

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