Tag Archives: customers

credit

Wells Fargo Offers Free Credit Scores to Customers

In an effort to help customers succeed financially, Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC) is offering its customers their free consumer credit score and complimentary credit report through Nov. 16, 2014. For more information about this limited time promotion, visit https://www.wellsfargo.com/freecreditscore.

“A recent Wells Fargo survey  said 27 percent of Americans are more worried about their financial health than their physical health,” Pam Conboy, lead region president for Wells Fargo in Arizona. “In much the same way an annual check-up helps us stay physically healthy, consumers can take control of their financial health by regularly checking their credit and taking steps to improve it.”

About the Free Consumer Credit Score Program

From Oct. 1 – Nov. 16, 2014, all Wells Fargo customers can access their free consumer credit score and complimentary credit report by visiting a Wells Fargo banking store and obtaining a unique personal access code from a Wells Fargo banker.

Since its inception in 2012, more than 800,000 customers and team members have taken advantage of the promotion and obtained their free consumer credit score and complimentary credit report. In its third year, the Wells Fargo’s Free Credit Score promotion coincides with the American Bankers Association’s Get Smart about Credit day, a national campaign of volunteer bankers who work with young people to raise awareness about the importance of using credit responsibly.

As part of the Get Smart about Credit program, Wells Fargo set a goal of reaching at least 60,000 people through volunteering in classrooms and community centers across the country to teach credit lessons.

Tips for Credit Health and Wellness
A strong credit profile can help consumers qualify for lower interest rates. Yet, many people wait until they need a loan to think about their credit situation. Wells Fargo offers these tips to responsibly manage their credit:

• Check your credit report annually. Make sure your credit report contains current and accurate information. Errors could negatively impact your credit score and even be a sign of possible identity theft. Request a free copy of your credit report at least once a year from www.AnnualCreditReport.com  or call toll-free 1-877-322-8228.

• Pay your bills on time. Your payment history is one of the biggest factors in your credit score – including things that may surprise you like on-time payment of your rent and cell phone bill. Using free online tools, often available through your financial institution’s online banking, can help you develop a budget and create an automatic bill payment schedule.

• Keep debt at no more than 35 percent of your gross monthly income. Lenders look at the amount of debt a consumer has compared to their monthly income when making credit decisions.

• Understand how strong credit impacts your bottom line. Your credit score influences the interest rate you qualify for. The lower the interest rate, the less you’ll pay in interest over time. Many sites, including Wells Fargo, offer calculators that help consumers understand how interest rates impact their payment and the total cost of the loan.

• Establish and maintain healthy credit – even if you don’t need a loan. Lenders aren’t the only people who use credit scores to make decisions – many insurance companies, cell phone providers and landlords do, too.

Armando Contreras, CEO of United Cerebral Palsy of Central Arizona

Circle K Raises $5.3 Million for UCP of Central Arizona

Through fundraising efforts at local stores and events throughout the State of Arizona and Las Vegas, Nevada, Circle K employees, customers and vendors generously helped raise over $5.3 million for UCP of Central and Southern Arizona, and Opportunity Village in Las Vegas, Nevada.    The funds donated support the organizations’ mission to help children and adults with disabilities including Down syndrome, autism, developmental delays, learning disabilities, and cerebral palsy.   Donations are collected every day when Circle K employees ask customers to donate their extra change at the register to benefit families and children with disabilities.  And vendors participating in the Aces High and Desert Klassic golf tournaments result in additional funding for UCP of Central Arizona’s important mission.

UCP would like to acknowledge Circle K for its extraordinary efforts in supporting UCP and its families.  “Circle K promotes a culture that is deeply rooted in corporate responsibility, giving back to the community and making a positive difference in the lives of others,” said Armando Contreras, CEO of United Cerebral Palsy of Central Arizona.  “UCP has been working in collaboration with Circle K for over 30 years, and with their help, thousands of children, adults and families have received the essential services they desperately need.  Because of the generosity from Circle K employees, customers and vendors, we have children and adults who were given the opportunity to speak their first words, take their first step, and give a loved one a hug for the first time,” he added.

“Our record contribution level this past year is testament to the caring and generous community spirit of everyone we have the great privilege to employ and serve,” said Paul Rodriguez, Vice President of the Arizona Division of Circle K.   “Our 30 year partnership speaks not just to the sincerity of the effort but also to the good and important work being done by UCP. Breakthroughs happen every day at the Dozer Center that our employees have the honor to witness and participate in. It lends greater meaning and higher purpose to each and every workday at Circle K. Everyone benefits,” Rodriguez added.

Circle K will be honored at United Cerebral Palsy’s annual event, Champions in Life Night Gala, scheduled for the evening of November 15, 2013 at the Ritz Carlton-Phoenix.  Circle K will be receiving the Laura Dozer Award, named after the daughter of Rich and Karie Dozer, who had cerebral palsy and passed in 2008.

Founded in 1952, the Central Arizona chapter of the nationally recognized agency has served as a private, non-profit health and human service organization for adults and children with disabilities and their families. UCP of Central Arizona’s programming is designed to help children and adults reach their full potential and improve the quality of life of their family members.

UCP is committed to creating possibilities and nurturing opportunities for children and adults with disabilities. To accomplish our vision, we’ve become a leader in providing therapies, independent living services, inclusive and integrated educational based programs, innovative social opportunities, and basic research. We also bring support to families as they face the daily challenges of raising a child with a disability and hope for a life without limits for their son or daughter.

To learn more, visit www.ucpofcentralaz.org.

recycling

APS, SRP Warn Customers of Fraud Attempts

APS and SRP want customers to stay safe this holiday season and be aware of potential fraud attempts. Both companies have received reports of individuals falsely claiming to represent APS or SRP to collect payment for electric service.

Several customers in the Phoenix metropolitan area have received telephone call from an individual who claims to represent the utility providers or makes a generic reference to the “electric or power company.”

The fraudulent caller claims the customer has an overdue bill and service will be disconnected if payment isn’t made immediately. The scam artist then asks the customer to take one of three actions:

  • Make the payment over the phone via credit card
  • Visit a payment kiosk where the caller will provide an account number to use for payment
  • Wire the money to an account via Western Union.

As a reminder, APS or SRP customer service representatives never call customers to ask for credit card numbers or personal information or to remind them of a delinquent balance. Customers are notified of delinquent balances and shut-off dates via the APS/SRP bill. Some customers also may receive text messaging, an automated dialer message and/or a door hanger.

Customers should always use their personal APS or SRP account number when using the various payment options available to them. Payments are not accepted by field personnel.
Utility representatives may not always wear uniforms with the APS or SRP logo.  However, all permanent employees are required to carry identification. On occasion, the companies use contract workers who are required to carry a letter of introduction from APS or SRP. If there ever is a question about the validity of a person claiming to be an APS or SRP representative, customers are urged to ask for an employee identification number and to call the APS Customer Care Center at (602) 371-7171 or the SRP Customer Services at 602-236-8888 to verify employee status.

If a person is misrepresenting himself/herself as a utility employee, customers should immediately call local law enforcement and the FTC at 1-877-382-4357, using reference number 401625543, if they are a victim of this fraudulent activity or receive a similar call from a scam artist.

The fake calls are being made to both English- and Spanish-speaking customers.  SRP has reported the activity to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

APS, Arizona’s largest and longest-serving electric utility, serves more than 1.1 million customers in 11 of the state’s 15 counties. With headquarters in Phoenix, APS is the largest subsidiary of Pinnacle West Capital Corporation (NYSE:PNW).

SRP is the largest provider of electricity to the greater Phoenix metropolitan area, serving more than 950,000 customers in Maricopa and Pinal counties. SRP is also the largest supplier of raw water in the great Phoenix metropolitan area.

customer.service

Is Your Company Naughty or Nice?

Generally, companies try to stay on their best behavior all year long. But during this holiday season—with decked halls, crowded malls, shrinking bank accounts, and frayed nerves—providing great service is even more critical than usual. Much like Santa, customers have their own “naughty or nice list,” and Ron Kaufman says they won’t hesitate to give you the business equivalent of a stocking full of coal (i.e., taking their business somewhere else) if you make your way into the wrong column.

“There’s no better time of the year than the holiday season to uplift your customers with great service,” says Kaufman, author of the New York Times bestseller Uplifting Service: The Proven Path to Delighting Your Customers, Colleagues, and Everyone Else You Meet (Evolve Publishing, 2012, ISBN: 978-0-9847625-0-7, $24.95, www.UpliftingService.com). “Unfortunately, there’s also no easier time of the year to do or say exactly the wrong thing.”

Often at the holidays companies find themselves overbooked and short staffed. Supplies of popular items run out of stock. Departments aren’t prepared for the increased volume of customer inquiries and complaints. Employees are too distracted by holiday events or travel plans or shopping lists to give customers their full attention.

“These practices are precisely what land companies on customers’ naughty lists,” says Kaufman. “But usually, these are not isolated incidents. Instead, they are evidence of a bigger problem in the organization’s overall service culture.”

Kaufman is at the head of a growing worldwide movement to uplift service in general—for customers and for colleagues. His new book takes readers on a journey into a world of uplifting service with dynamic case studies and perspective-changing insights. Readers learn how the world’s best-performing companies have changed the game in their industries through service and the action steps anyone can take to achieve an uplifting service transformation.

“Holiday happiness and great service needn’t be incompatible,” says Kaufman. “In fact, one of the true forces driving the holidays is our desire to take care of the people we love. And that’s what’s at the core of uplifting service—taking care of the needs and concerns of other people. When companies build a service culture that keeps this top of mind, they’ll find themselves on the nice list every time.”

How can you be sure to land on your customers’ nice lists? What behaviors will banish you to their naughty lists? Read on for a few tips from Kaufman:

To Stay on the Nice List:

Make it seamless. For many of your customers, the holiday season is the busiest time of the year. They will be shopping, ordering, and asking more questions than ever across every possible channel: in person, over the phone, at their computers, on their mobile devices, at work, in their cars, and from home.

“When you provide integrated, smooth service across channels, you’re making your customers’ lives a lot easier,” he says. “From web to email to ATM, to counter to SMS to phone calls, to social platforms and home deliveries, when all information about your customers accumulates and moves seamlessly, then your customers can get what they need from you quickly and get back to doing everything else in their lives.”

Customize for your customers. Sure, your customers know they aren’t your only customer, but that doesn’t mean they don’t want to be treated that way. Personalized service makes people feel special.

“When you offer options, choices, range, and variety and create more value through customization and personalization, your customers will feel like they’re your favorite,” notes Kaufman. “Implement processes that allow you to recall your customers’ questions, preferences, and choices in all future interactions. Then customize your offers and suggestions for their next visit or purchase. This increases your value each time a customer comes to you, and helps you become the vendor, store, or supplier they are glad to talk about and comfortable recommending to others.”

Say “Yes!” to service recovery. Companies on the nice list know that great service recovery turns “oops” into opportunities. Don’t treat customer complaints like they’re annoying or a waste of time, advises Kaufman. Instead, be grateful when unhappy customers give you a chance to win back their business. Why? Because for every customer who does complain, there are several others who had the same problem, but didn’t give you a second chance.

“Companies that ‘get’ service recovery understand when a customer complains, he is really telling you what he values,” points out Kaufman. “If he says you weren’t fast enough, he values speed. If he says he’s tired of not being able to get anyone on the phone, he values human interaction. ‘Nice’ companies quickly seek to identify what complaining customers value. And then they make sure that employees are empowered to make amends and offer an appropriately generous and valuable new action.”

Remember that happy (engaged) employees = service with a smile. Especially during the holidays, it can feel like the businesses, stores, and restaurants we frequent have been invaded by employee drones. Many service providers seem exhausted, frazzled, and too overwhelmed to do anything more than provide the minimum service to keep customers moving along.

“Companies on the nice list know how important employees—both customer-facing and non-customer-facing—are to providing uplifting service,” says Kaufman. “Your employees should be switched on and energized by their role at your company. When they’re clearly aligned, vigorously supported, and joyfully connected to the brand, to colleagues, and to customers, then job satisfaction fuels customer satisfaction in a virtuous cycle.”

Weave yourself into the fabric of the community. Uplifting service works because it makes everyone feel good, from employees to customers to other community members. When your company plays a socially responsible role in the community, then good feelings of service spread farther, and employees want to provide great service because it is so gratifying.

“When your company contributes and participates in the wider community, uplifting the commercial, civil, cultural, environmental, and economic eco-systems, people notice,” says Kaufman. “They’ll want to give you business because they know you give right back to their community. Being your customer makes them feel like they’re contributing, too. Many companies do this with local sports team sponsorships, school internship opportunities, highway and park adoption schemes, and other neighborhood development programs.”

To Get Stuck on the Naughty List:

Specialize in the run-around. Doing business with a company should be a choice, not a chore. But unfortunately, many companies make receiving service very difficult for their customers.

“Companies on the naughty list aren’t streamlined,” notes Kaufman. “Customers have to give the same information to one person after another as they’re passed from department to department seeking help. Departments are so siloed that customers can feel like they aren’t even talking to people who work at the same company.”

Treat customers like a number. Have you ever been to a business, office, or other facility where you had to literally take a number and wait for it to show up on the electronic sign before receiving service? It doesn’t feel so great, does it? That’s how customers feel when you don’t bother to get to know them as individuals.

“When you don’t personalize service by taking the time to learn your customers’ names or implementing systems that remember their needs, you make customers feel like they’re just one of many,” says Kaufman. “There’s no bond, nothing to make them feel any loyalty to you. Make one mistake and they will immediately go somewhere else.”

Exhibit a “the customer’s always wrong” mentality. If turning unhappy customers into loyal customers is what lands companies on the nice list, then the quickest way to land on the naughty list is to treat complaining customers like they’re ruining your day. This can mean anything from blame shifting to “punishing” an unhappy customer by making the interaction even less pleasant than it already is.

“Companies that don’t have a solid service recovery program react to complaining customers by seeking to avoid blame,” notes Kaufman. “Employees point the finger at their colleagues or back at the customers themselves and say, ‘It’s not my fault!’ They’re too focused on passing the buck to even take notice of the customers’ real needs. And to make it even worse, these companies tend to bog down customers even more by requiring a morass of receipts and time-consuming paperwork before they receive even a mediocre level of service.”

Put unhappy, clock-watching employees in front of customers. Naughty companies hire employees who are interested only in working for a wage, and it shows.

“For these companies, service with a smile is a pipe dream,” says Kaufman. “More like service with a grimace! You know you’re at a naughty company when a service representative won’t look you in the eye, has no energy to smile, and treats you like the service they provide is a chore. You might leave having received the product or service you need, but you won’t leave feeling uplifted or wanting to return.”

Put the bottom line on a pedestal. Some companies on the naughty list treat customers like a number; others treat customers like a dollar sign.

“Companies that put the bottom line on a pedestal above their customers can make customers feel like they’re being tricked or swindled,” notes Kaufman. “They offer deals that aren’t backed by great service. Or run ads touting low-cost products that don’t offer real satisfaction. Customers end up feeling as mercenary as the companies they buy from. Both parties may have completed a deal, but neither was uplifted by any lasting value.”

“What companies should be asking themselves now is, How can we make sure we’re on our customers’ nice lists?” says Kaufman. “There’s no better time of the year to assess your company’s service culture. What are your customers experiencing today? What will they expect from you tomorrow? Are you ahead of your competitors, or lagging behind?

“When you commit to creating an uplifting service culture where everyone is fully engaged, encouraging each other, improving the customer experience, making the company more successful, and contributing to the community at large, you’ll spend every holiday season on your customers’ nice lists,” he adds. “And you will reap the benefits year-round.”

National Bank of Arizona, APS Energy Efficiency Partnership

APS Home Performance Program Provides Loans For Homeowners Energy Efficient Improvements

National Bank of Arizona has partnered with APS to provide an affordable financial incentive for APS customers to renovate their homes with energy efficient improvements. It’s called the APS Home Performance with ENERGY STAR® program.

The program was started more than a year ago and at the time was only available to schools and small businesses. But now, the partnership has  opened up so all APS residential customers have the ability to benefit not only the environment, but their wallet as well.

“We’re pleased to continue our partnership with a company like APS that views environmental sustainability as a top priority for our community,” says Craig Robb, executive vice president of National Bank of Arizona. “Our business energy financing program has been incredibly successful and, we’ve recognized the need to offer the same initiatives in the residential sector, as well.”

Photo: photos.com

The APS Home Performance with ENERGY STAR® program allows homeowners to receive loan amounts ranging with a standard rate of financing, from $1,000-$15,000 for qualifying energy efficiency improvements. Loans that include improvements for solar water heaters are available up to $20,000. The energy efficient improvements included in the partnership program range from duct sealing and shade screens to heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) replacements, solar water heaters and more.

To get started, customers need to schedule their $99 (regularly $400) APS Home Performance with ENERGY STAR® Checkup with a participating contractor. Customers can locate a contractor by calling (877) 850-8358 or visiting www.aps.com.

Learn more about the APS Home Performance with ENERGY STAR® program and financing details by visiting any one of National Bank of Arizona’s 76 branches statewide or calling (866) 277-5605 for more information. Customers can also log on to www.nbarizona.com or www.aps.com/financing.

10 Great Customer Service Success Stories - AZ Business Magazine September/October 2011

10 Great Customer Service Success Stories And Tips

Troy Hazard, author of the best-selling book “Future-Proofing Your Business”, offers these 10 tips for great customer service:

1. THE ANGRY CUSTOMER: In an argumentative situation, think of how you would feel in your customer’s shoes. Take time to consider his or her personality and position. The faster you start talking in your customer’s language, the quicker the route to an amicable result.

2. WHEN SERVICE GOES WRONG: Try these customer service tips practiced by an airline with flight problems: Acknowledge the problem and take time for face-to-face when possible. Anticipate the needs of the customer and make the customer comfortable. Communicate the solution and offer as much information as you can.

3. PERSONAL TOUCH: After buying a car, the salesman, would send information about things I was personally interested in. The salesman ended up selling $1.5 million to my friends through endorsement or referral.

4. TRUE CUSTOMER APPRECIATION: Sometimes we think we are rewarding our loyal customers when really we are offering them a bribe. A random thank you note that says, “Thanks for being a great customer, please accept this voucher as a sign of our appreciation” is a reward.

5. KEEPING IT REAL: When I owned an advertising business, I did not try to be what I was not. I did not make promises I could not keep. And it got me the client.

6. PROVE YOUR WORTH: Instead of trying to convince potential customers that you can do the job better than your competitor, simply demonstrate to them a service that your competitors simply won’t do.

7. THREE QUESTIONS OF CUSTOMER RELATIONSHIPS: Two of the most important aspects of building customer relationships are communication and consistency. Ask yourself:

* How often are you reaching out to your customers outside of the times they come to you?
* How often do you offer them something that is good for them, which has nothing to do with you selling them another product or service?
* How often do you train or retrain your staff on how to build better customer relationships?

8. INFORMATION OVER BRICKS AND MORTAR: There is only one way to truly build solid customer relationships — understand their needs and do not assume their expectations. Ask them why they purchase from you and how that purchase affects their lives. You can then use that data to develop a significant emotional connection.

9. ANTICIPATE EXPECTATIONS: Put yourself in your customers’ shoes, and think about what they will want tomorrow — and deliver that product or service today.

10. BE SOCIAL ON SOCIAL MEDIA: As you launch your business into the world of social media marketing, remember that it is just that — social. It’s a means for your customers to praise or punish you.

[stextbox id=”grey”]For more information by Troy Hazard about good customer service, visit his website at www.troyhazard.com.[/stextbox]

 Arizona Business Magazine September/October 2011