CUC Call Center: ‘We’re here to serve’


CUC Acting Call Center manager Alain Nunez and Senior Dispatch Operator and Call Center supervisor Elsa Isaac pose inside the CUC Customer Call Center.
(Contributed Photo)

It only takes seconds for the ringing to begin when the islands of Saipan, Tinian and Rota experience interruptions in their essential services. Whether answering questions about power, water or wastewater, the men and women who answer the phones for the Commonwealth Utilities Corp.’s 24-hour Customer Call Center stand ready to take your call.

The CUC Call Center opened in 2014, staffed entirely with locally hired employees to serve customers around the clock. By doing so, the utility created a team of operators solely responsible for addressing CUC customers, armed with internal policies and procedures. The move also cut costs incurred for similar services provided by outside vendors.

“The main function of the call center is dealing with the flow of information, whether from the community to our staff or vice-versa,” says CUC acting Call Center manager Alain Nunez. “When the community calls to report a problem, we gather as much information as possible and relay that information to the division best equipped to address the issue. We strive to deliver the latest and most accurate information about power, water and wastewater.”

While Nunez appreciates what his team has accomplished in the past year and a half, he continues to address improvements within his department based on community feedback.

“We recognize the challenges we’ve faced and continue to face with our internal communication, but we’re making efforts to address these issues by implementing steps to improve the customer experience,” he said.

CUC Call Center personnel will regularly meet with department managers to provide community feedback and to develop operational knowledge that will enable operators to better communicate information to customers.

Acting CUC executive director Gary Camacho said the call center has come a long way in a short amount of time but there is still much to do.

“As with every department at CUC, our call center will continue to be a work in progress as we strive to improve our utility,” Camacho said. “As we identify challenges, we come together to develop and implement solutions to move us forward.”

The call center recently added six new members to reinforce the team. Nunez makes it a part of orientation to take the new operators on a tour of all CUC facilities to provide them with a face-to-face meeting with the voices they’ll hear on the other end of the line.

CUC’s Senior Dispatch Operator and Call Center supervisor Elsa Isaac came to the utility from the private sector in 2014. Her experience with the IT&E Customer Care Center made her the perfect fit for CUC.

As an experienced call center employee, Isaac understands the important role she and her coworkers serve as the first point of contact for customers when problems arise.

“Even though you don’t get to see us, we’re almost like the face of CUC,” she said.

While prospective employees can apply for any number of positions within the utility, Isaac said beginning her career in the call center provided her with valuable insight into CUC’s operations.

“The call center is a great department. You get customer service skills, technical skills—experience you can use anywhere in life. If people want to start a career with CUC, I think they should start with the call center because they’ll get an idea of how everything works,” she said.

As a result, Isaac’s perception of what it takes to restore essential services has changed dramatically.

“Now I know how much effort they put into the field,” she said. “I thought there were only troubleshooters who addressed issues but now I know we have engineers, plumbers, electricians, operators, inspectors, surveyors and line crew. I thought it was just one group but there are so many people involved.” (CUC)

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