Melanie Plain and Ron Kerzka are two sides of the same coin.
Their role is to help DTE inspect and move inside meters to the outside of homes to enhance accessibility, safety, and reliability, and connect with customers to explain why this work is important to their home and DTE.
It all starts with Melanie, an operations analyst who assists field crews with planning and contacting customers about work orders. She’s also at the forefront of improving and implementing technologies for the entire gas main renewal and meter move out processes that enhances the customer experience. On any given day, she is explaining to customers how the upgraded infrastructure makes our natural gas service more reliable, stronger and safer. She shares how the relocating the meters outside will help if there is a gas leak or an emergency, and answers customer questions.
“We’re working to make it a better experience for customers. To provide more opportunities for them to talk to us and understand the work,” Plain said. “That way, they also see we’re more than robots on the phone. I have a house too – we live here, and we understand what we’re asking of you.”
Ron Kerza, a 47-year general maintenance fitter, said Melanie and the team help to inform customers in advance, so he can spend more time addressing what really needs to be done. When the crews show up to inspect the meter, they’re also checking for safety and having detailed conversations about the next steps.
“When we go into a person’s home, we’re checking for carbon monoxide, proper ventilation and operation of gas appliances and meters,” Kerzka said. “We explain these are part of our gas safety procedures, so our customers are getting free check-ups and know their house and its contents are in proper working condition.”
When Kerzka and the customer discuss relocating the meter outside, moving the service lines and upgrading equipment – they often ask “why?” The answer is simple.
“I tell them, it’s a safety factor. If your house ever caught on fire, the fire department could arrive and turn off the gas right away, taking away at least one potential danger so they can focus on what’s happening,” he said, and added that it’s more convenient for customers for our mandatory inspections since they won’t have to be home to have them completed. Yet the work is different for every home.
“We work with the customers to determine where it should be moved, how it will connect to the improved gas main underground, and what construction needs to be done both inside and outside the home,” he said. “At the end of the day, we want our work to be above and beyond what is expected, and makes our customers happy.”
So together, and with their larger teams, Melanie and Ron are focused on not only getting the job done, but providing our customers with respect, empathy and the best experience they can. And for Kerzka, it also means having fun while he works. “I laugh every day. It’s how I passed 46 years with the company without even realizing it,” he said. “I make it a point to have fun, to build relationships with my coworkers and with our customers.”