Restoring power after interruptions and outages is one of your primary roles as a utility provider. While dealing with these issues has been a feature of utility operations from the very beginning, recent years have brought new technologically empowered methods to improve the speed and effectiveness of power outage restoration. By harnessing these techniques, you can build satisfaction and loyalty among your customers.
Utility members value reliability
Using every available method to shorten the length of a service interruption is simply a good business practice. E Source reported that providing reliable energy is a pillar of customer service in the utilities sector. This takes two forms: proactive infrastructure improvements to make outages less frequent and effective responses whenever an interruption does occur. Keeping power loss as short as possible reduces customers’ “confusion and frustration,” E Source added.
There are challenges getting in your way when making moves to cut down your response time to power outages. Power lines and other critical infrastructure are showing their age in many regions, which can make it more likely your area will experience a serious disruption. In late 2018, the U.S. Energy Information Administration published findings on interruptions and found the duration of these events was 7.8 hours a year for the average consumer. This was a sharp increase over previous figures, which should be a concerning sign for utilities.
Your linemen may find themselves responding to more incidents than before, and these issues are likely to be serious. Finding ways to make field teams’ jobs easier and simplify the entire restoration process – including customer communication – is an essential consideration for today’s utilities.
Technology can be the difference-maker
Upgrading your outage management system is a targeted way to quickly and safely address outages. An OMS connects the various parts of an outage response. Up-to-date versions of these solutions use GPS technology to create an accurate outage map. By giving linemen access to this data, you can dispatch crews directly to confirmed or suspected sites of infrastructure failures. Accurate real-time information also helps keep personnel safe as well as empowering them to address issues efficiently.
The customer communication portion of outage responses also improves with an OMS. You can integrate your OMS with an interactive voice response system to make it easier for customers to report their outages. Automated responses are available based on member location, so if there is a known outage in an area, callers will be reassured that your personnel are aware of the situation. This helps counteract the frustration that comes from a lack of contact.
Today’s power infrastructure is capable of relaying more data than ever before – this is the so-called smart grid, and it enables you to make more accurate and targeted responses to interruptions, provided you have the OMS to derive actionable insights from the data. Integrating that OMS with everything from mobile lineman apps to IVR allows you to launch a coordinated effort to restore power, speeding the resolution and keeping today’s demanding customers happy.