When you call Nashville Electric Service (NES) to sign up for service or have a question about your bill, a small army of dedicated customer relations advisors are ready to help. They answer approximately one million calls every year but work hard to treat each customer with care and concern.

No one does that better than Service Advisor of the Year, Lewis Buchanan. He earned this distinct honor by completing all phases of customer service training, having no justified complaints or errors, and meeting standards of excellence in call monitoring, productivity, hours spent on the phone and attendance.

We wanted to learn more about Lewis and how he excels with helping customers without ever meeting them face to face. Here’s what he had to say about his 13 years of experience at NES.

What’s your background? How did you get started at NES?
I have a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Tennessee State University. When I started at NES, I was a meter reader trainee for about nine months. Reading meters rain or shine was tough, so I was grateful when an opportunity opened in the customer relations call center.

As a service advisor, what do you do? What’s your day like?
I’m on the phone helping callers with a wide range of issues and needs. We assist customers with starting service, making payments, enrolling in NES programs, researching billing questions and providing guidance on ways to save energy.

What’s the one thing you love most about your job?
I love being able to solve problems for our customers and provide them with a positive experience.

I’m sure that being an advisor can be challenging at times. How do you handle those difficulties?
I take care of myself both physically and mentally through a healthy diet and exercise so that I’m able to stay focused, remain calm and deal with challenges head on.

Do you have one particular moment that you’re most proud of?
There are times when I get on a call and the customer is already very angry. In one particular instance, the caller screamed for about 10 to 15 minutes. I listened to his concerns and allowed him to vent until he calmed down. Although it took almost an hour, the call ended as if we were best friends.

Is there a specific customer that sticks out in your mind that you’ll always remember?
I will always remember taking a call from a customer who was very depressed and said she had given up all hope. Her service was in the process of being disconnected for non-payment. I tried to lift her spirit with words of encouragement and keep her on the phone because I was afraid of what might happen if she hung up. While I was asking a supervisor for assistance, a payment from an assistance agency posted to the customer’s account in the amount of $351. She needed $350.60 to keep her power turned on. I’ve never been happier to share that news with a customer. She cried uncontrollable tears of joy for about 20 minutes. It was a miracle moment.