Get to Know the People of Your PUD

By Rodger Nichols

Laurie Layton is the customer service lead at Northern Wasco County PUD. The utility’s four-person customer service team strives to make customers happy. Photo by Bethany Pound

Laurie Layton has lived in The Dalles since she was 9 years old.

“Before that, my dad was in the Air Force, and we lived all over,” she says. “He retired in The Dalles.”

Whether that early exposure to different places and people played a part in it, Laurie says she has always enjoyed helping people.

“From my very first job at Coast to Coast—stocking shelves, assisting customers with finding hardware parts to ringing up their purchases—I enjoyed the interaction with people,” she says.

Laurie later worked at Fred Meyer locations in The Dalles and Eugene.

“Down the road, I married, and had two children—my son, Matthew, and daughter, Katie,” Laurie says. “I was very fortunate to stay at home to raise them.”

When Laurie returned to the job market, it was to work for Sprint. She spent six years in repair and customer care before joining the PUD in 2004.

“During that time, I gained many of the problem-solving skills that I use today—from answering billing questions, troubleshooting issues, and resolving customer conflicts, to name just a few,” she says.

Laurie recently was promoted to customer service lead at the PUD.

“There are four of us on the customer service team who provide direct contact with the customers on a regular basis,” she says. “When you call or come in, we’ll be the ones who answer.”

Laurie says there are many roles in customer service aside from answering phones and assisting at the counter. Team members set up and close accounts; process payments, billing, and credit; and handle collections.

Cody Ricks, left, enjoys his work as an apprentice lineman for Northern Wasco County PUD. Photo Courtesy of NWCPUD

“We have a great team,” she says. “We’re all knowledgeable, and each person on the team brings unique qualities and skills that we learn from each other. We all strive to provide excellent customer service so that the outcome is happy, satisfied customers. We’re constantly improving our processes to help make each interaction a positive one for our customers.”

In the past few years, the PUD has made many improvements throughout the utility. One is the replacement of old electric meters with smart meters.

“Now we can connect or disconnect meters right from our desk,” Laurie says. “This is a huge benefit in providing instant power for our customers.”

Outside of work, Laurie enjoys riding her Peloton bike and spending time with her family. She is busy caring for her elderly parents, who live next door to her.

Her daughter, Katie, recently received a doctorate in physical therapy.

“To celebrate, we are going on a family vacation to Hawaii this year,” Laurie says. “I am looking forward to spending time with them and playing in the sand with granddaughters Olivia and Alyssa.”