Your energy utility is never quite as exposed as it is during an outage. This is the time when your response to the issue can shape customer perception. At most times, power is something consumers can put out of their minds – it’s on and it will be there when they need it. Breaks in this status quo turn attention on the grid and energy utilities. Will your restoration and communication strategies rise to the occasion?
Communication matters in an outage
There are many reasons to focus on giving consumers accurate and efficient updates during a power outage. While at first glance, speaking to the public could seem unimportant next to the nuts-and-bolts work of power restoration, there are numerous reasons to improve your outreach strategy:
- Energy Central contributor Megan Nichols pointed out the huge role emergency updates and communication play in customer approval. Residential customers and especially businesses are counting on proactive and accurate estimates on restoration when they report an outage. Failure to provide the necessary information could lead to disappointment or distrust.
- When your communication system is proactive, accurate and contains a heavy dose of automation, you can deliver this positive customer experience while also keeping your office team free to work on restoration efforts. Interactive voice response systems can prevent incoming calls from taking up too much of your staff’s time. This is especially important if you have a limited team.
- Good customer communications and internal collaboration can go together. A modern outage management system incorporating IVR alongside geographic information systems and data coming in from the smart grid can enable your team to share updates between the field and the office.
Communication at other times is important, too
There is a major benefit to upgrading communication infrastructure that goes beyond outage alerts and emergency contact. Namely, when your organization becomes more adept at interacting with members outside of a power restoration context, you can build customer relationships in ways that may not have been possible in the past.
Utility Dive reported that this more active type of ongoing contact between providers and their audiences is part of a general trend in the industry: Companies are doing more for their customers than just offering reliable electricity. They are also becoming authorities on forward-looking issues such as efficiency and sustainable energy. This repositioning to be more present in members’ lives is not possible if the only time your company speaks to consumers is during a blackout.
The current era of connected grid infrastructure and smart meters can enable more proactive and efficient communications at all times, including during the high-pressure environment of an outage. To seize the advantages, however, you have to commit to improving your own use of technology. This is where a modern OMS, linked to IVR, can prove its worth to your organization, putting you in touch with consumers and internal stakeholders alike while making your real-time data more visible.
Consumers can tell the difference between a modern, prepared utility and one stuck with too much legacy technology. That difference becomes clearest during outage restoration.