Page images
PDF
EPUB

if not more, value than a public utility franchise, and in that way the law could create enormous values, especially in the big cities, simply by fiat although of course the passing of such a law and its enforcement would never produce or add anything to the existing wealth of the Nation. Usually a public service corporation has an exclusive franchise by virtue of its large investment in proportion to its gross revenue, and the only way it can maintain this so-called monopoly is by giving good service and fair and honorable treatment to the public. If a company does not do this, it is simply inviting the formation of a competing company with the usual disastrous results.

As Mr. Olds well says, a successful manager of a public utility corporation must possess a good many diversified qualities, and it is very rare, if ever, that a man is found who possesses all these desirable qualities.

I thoroughly agree with what Mr. Olds says about the necessity of having harmonious feeling existing among the operating forces of a public utility corporation. Ii employees are knocking the company they are working for, it is no wonder that the public will follow suit. If the employees are not absolutely loyal towards the company and its management, either new employees or a new management should be installed as quickly as possible.

I also especially agree with the paragraphs in Mr. Olds' paper entitled “Backbone & Politics."

In conclusion I can only say that I consider Mr. Olds' paper a very good one, and that the manager who carefully and conscientiously carries out all the advice and the suggestions given will undoubtecily be on the right road towards public confidence and also on the high road towards an increased salary and a vote of thanks from the stockholders and directors of his company.

B. C. Cobb, New York City

Mr. Olds has so covered the situation in his interesting paper that it is extremely difficult to add much that would be appropriate. At the risk, however, of repeating thoughts already recorded by others, I should say that "PUBLIC GOOD WILL" depends mostly on the folowing, and in the order named:

1. Give good service and courteous treatment.

2. Make the public believe it (and this is not the easiest job in the world).

3. Keep out of political entanglements and newspaper arguinents.

4. Create, if possible, a friendly relationship with the newspapers hy giving thein correct and honest information that you may not be misrepresented.

5 Don't keep customers (chronic kickers though they may be) and others cooling their heels outside the office doors of the manager or other heads of departments. Instant recognition and a smile may do more in some cases than any other one thing. If a caller can not be attended to immediately, it makes him feel better to be told so with an explanation and an engagement made for a future time, than to keep him awaiting the pleasure of an officer or employee of a company. Often bad feeling is engendered by lack of courtesy in this respect.

As stated above, it is not the easiest thing in the world to inake the public believe that you are giving it good service, even though it be true, (and right here, I may say that I think most companies are endeavoring at the present time to give as good service as possible) No doubt, some corporations have erred in the past in the conduct of their business and have not treated the public with the confidence or respect to which it is entitled. This condition, allied with political interference, and in some instances, newspaper misrepresentation, has in many places formed a bad situation. In the past few years the cry has been with many of us, "EDUCATE THE PUBLIC,” and some companies have at extravagant prices and without regard to newspaper space, published column after column, and day after day, of socalled “educational” matter. There is no question but what some of this has done good, and that there is more good to follow by such procedure. I would suggest, however, that any company entering a campaign of this kind should zealously and carefully censor every article.

Finally, as I have already said, extend courteous treatment, give good service and make the public believe it—these are the essential points. The difficult problem is to make the public believe it.

Edward G. Pratt, Chicago:

It may follow, in some instances, perhaps not many, that closer relations of the Public with the Public Utilities are due to the so-called "probing processess” to which the author of the paper refers and of which we hear and read so much, but I hardly think so.

An individual, or corporation, that does things for the community it serves under compulsion, does not do it willingly and therefore, cannot disguise its unwillingness easily. I maintain that it is just such conditions as these that have brought about the "probing process” to which Mr. Olds refers in his opening paragraph.

The' narrow minded corporations have brought these unfortunate conditions upon themselves and they are the ones that ought to suffer but unfortunately, the progressive and well meaning public utilities frequently suffer with them and are now and then caught in the drag net of public opinion while the other fellow is being sought after.

I must take issue with the author of the paper in his statement that “from the time of earliest hisory, etc., public men and movements have catered to the pople," on the contrary, they have studiously held themselevs apart from the people believing that in so doing the people would become less intimately acquainted with them and their affairs.

I am one of those who believe that the people, in the end, can be trusted to do the right thing, once they are convinced; it may take time to work out that convincing process but ultimately they can be depended upon to do the right thing.

Good feeling beween the people and corporations is a result of confidence and that must first be established, not by promises which are continually broken, or possibly by doing as much and no more than the contract calls for.

My notion of the treatment of the people by a public service corporation is that kind which you would expect to give if you had competition in your community in the same line of business; avoid working the monopoly policy too strong; seek to improve the service all the time; attend to complaints promptly and intelligently; treat delinquents with some consideration, they may be entitled to it. A delinquent frequntely has some standing in the community which you serve.

I do not beieve a committee appointed by this association or any other can lay down hard and fast rules to be followed for the betterment of public conditions; it is a part of the job of the manager to study and know these conditions and adapt himself and the conduct of the business to them. I should not want any outside organizations or committee to come into a town where I was managing a property and do things for the pleasure of my customers and the community, that I was unable to do. I am willing to concede there are such organizations who, because they have studied these things intelligently, have a general knowledge of the people in communities where they have operated. The manager and his associates should be equal to all this and if the right spirit prevails in the organization, it can be done as well, or better, than by an outside organization whose modus operandi would bear the same general ear marks for one place as another.

If you have “knockers” in your organization, get rid of them. Employ only "boosters.”

I agree with the writer that politics has had much to do with unsettled conditions affecting public utilities in different communities and it usually emanates from the "outs” who are seekng to get in. This may, in a measure, be due to the managers or his associates' too great activity in politics. He, or they, may have become partisans and offensive political partisans. Devote the same time and energy to the making and keeping of friends among your consumers that you might devote to politics and it will, in my judgment, bring better results.

The transition period is well portrayed by the writer and I am glad that he finds it convenient to refer to the complaint man as the “Genial Human Buffer.” Why not call him the “Man

of the Hour” when so much depends upon his work, for, next to the man who shapes the policy of the company and employs those competent to carry out that uolicy, the complaint man is the most valuable to the company and should be compensated in accordance therewith.

It has been said that corporations have no souls to save or heads to punch. This is true perhaps because of too great a division of responsibility, and people sometimes get astray in trying to locate the responsible head.

I agree absolutely with what the writer says about the treatment of employees, in fact, I think we agree in most things he has outlined; we seem to arrive at the same conclusions but the author of the paper has surrounded his thoughts with trimmings which so elevate his line of argument that a discussion along practical lines seems more or less prosaic.

Homer M. Eaton, Flint:

This well written paper of Mr. Olds' treats of a subject that we all from necessity know something of, and that is to our best business interests, but do we practice it each and every day? In the hurry to devise ways and means of reducing costs and increasing the earnings, it is a very easy matter for the manager or the department chief to leave to assistants, to a greater extent than is absolutely necessary, the detail of daily contact with the general public, whom they meet through the consumers.

It is true that only of recent years has this subject been taken up for general discussions at various association meetings, or otherwise, but I think that gas companies to a great extent gave earlier thought to proper relations with the people than probably other utility corporations, and that now gas companies are giving their assistance, gained from their experience, of aiding in the general education of the public that public service corporations are not one sided, but instead, that their business conditions are not really understood and appreciated by the layman who is not familiar with what goes to make up the corporations' expenses or what enters into determining the price of the commodity which the company has to sell.

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »