By Carla Davis, Alabama NewsCenter
PINSON –Toni Bishop connects with her Alabama Power customers through social media, email and the phone – never meeting them face-to-face. But recently the online customer care specialist stepped away from her computer to make the day of a Birmingham-area teen who is the company’s “biggest fan.”
It all started when Bishop received a Facebook message from Pinson customer Dana Harris, asking if she could buy an Alabama Power shirt for her 15-year-old son, Spencer.
Dana said her son has been interested in Alabama Power for as long as she can remember. But his fascination grew tremendously after taking part in the company’s Gone Fishin’, Not Just Wishin’ event as a 9-year-old. Spencer, who has a form of autism known as Asperger syndrome, is among the hundreds of children with special needs who have enjoyed a day of fishing through this annual springtime event.
“Spencer’s mom told me on Facebook that her son loves all things Alabama Power and even wishes to work here one day,” said Bishop. “I thought it would be really cool to take him some Alabama Power items and meet him personally.”
On March 31, Bishop, along with East Jefferson Manager Denise McDaniel and Trussville Field Service Supervisor Heath Ferguson, visited Spencer and his family to deliver a bag of Alabama Power logo items, including a beach chair, a hard hat, two shirts, four ball caps, notebooks and pens.
But the icing on the cake for Spencer was seeing Local Operations Lineman Dwight Yates drive up to the house in his company bucket truck. Yates showed his tools to Spencer and explained how he uses them on the job.
“Spencer was already excited. But when he saw the bucket truck, that really made his day,” Dana said. “He just loves bucket trucks. It’s like he has an eye for them. We’ll be out and about, and he will say, ‘Look, Mom, there goes Alabama Power.’”
Along with spotting Alabama Power trucks on the road, Spencer avidly follows company restoration efforts on television and his laptop after tornadoes and other storms, Dana said.
Bishop said the project was a team effort, with coworkers helping her collect Spencer’s gifts.
“It was a very humbling experience,” Bishop said. “When talking to customers via online channels, we don’t have the opportunity to connect the voice with the conversation. Through this visit, I got the chance to make a positive impact. I’m constantly amazed at how small gestures can go a long way toward building rapport with our customers.”
Spencer told his Alabama Power visitors that his dream is to work in the company’s mailroom.
“The fact that Spencer wants to work for the power company makes you realize how important our jobs are – not just to customers paying for power, but to their children who look up to us and what we do,” McDaniel said. “Spencer told us he wants to work in the mailroom and brought up how important that job is. For him to highlight that he just wants to be part of the company in some way is huge.”
Dana said Spencer proudly wore his Alabama Power shirt when he returned to school after spring break, and couldn’t wait to share his experience with his teacher and classmates.
“I love what you guys did for Spencer, and I know he loved it, too,” Dana said. “All I did was inquire if I could possibly purchase a T-shirt. Delivering all the gifts and bringing the bucket truck was amazing. I was speechless. Thank you for everything.”