Regain the Connection
John Hargrove is President and CEO of the Association of Energy Services Professionals.
In the mid-1980s, in my role as a customer energy consultant for the local utility, I was visiting a customer I'll call Mrs. Johnson. She was the prototypical little old lady. It was winter and she wanted help managing her electric bill.
I showed up on a snowy morning and the first thing she said to me was, "My heater is broken, can you help me fix it?" It was a propane heater, and since I was with the electric company, I could have said no.
But my mom didn't raise me that way, and my bosses at the utility didn't train me that way, so I said, "Let's see what we can do." I proceeded to diagnose a bad thermostat. Not a big deal, but it was such a stormy day that she couldn't make it to the store, and she certainly didn't know how to replace the thermostat even if she could have.
I told her that I would stop and buy a thermostat on my way home and at five-thirty that evening, I showed up and installed her new thermostat. She paid me for it and offered to pay me for the work. But, remember my mom. I said no payment was necessary.
More importantly, I now had a friend for life, as well as a totally dedicated customer. I heard from Mrs. Johnson several times during the following years. She often asked me energy-related questions. How much insulation should she have? Should she buy a new stove? She didn't make an energy-related move without asking me. And as a utility guy, I loved it.