While proactively managing communications with utility customers is especially important during a power outage, this forward-thinking approach to customer relations is something that utilities should always keep in mind. By making proactive communications a central part of the business strategy, utilities can improve their overall satisfaction rating and better manage the process when outages do occur. Finally, proactive communication is also important as customers increasingly compare their experience with their utility to that of other industries such as banking and entertainment.
“At the AGA/EEI Customer Service Conference last week, Oncor told the story of how it shifted from a traditional utility mindset to a re-energized, customer-focused company, particularly where it concerned outage communications,” explains Kate Rowland in a new article on Intelligent Utility. “Oncor’s Customer Experience Program began in 2010. It focused first on business process and technology to improve the customer relationship.”
“One area of opportunity that made immediate sense to Oncor was to improve its outage communication, with text notification, an IVR redesign, enhanced outage maps, social media monitoring, and a web and mobile refresh.” Such updates can mean that instead of customers feeling frustrated about delayed communication during a power outage, they receive proactive notice about potential issues due to weather and an estimate of how long the outage might last.
Improving outage communication was simply the first step towards a more proactive customer communications strategy overall for Oncor, which focused on better understanding the customer perspective. This involves meeting the customer where they already are, such as on social media, web, and mobile platforms, and making the message simple by using language that customers can easily understand.
As customers are increasingly comparing their utility experience with other industries such as airlines and telecommunications, it is even more important for utilities to make sure they keep up with new techniques for proactively engaging the customer in order to maintain customer satisfaction.
We agree that interacting proactively with customers in a social, fun and simple way is important. By getting customers engaged in their own energy consumption before an outage has ever occurred, utilities will be able to create a better relationship and more effectively communicate with customers at all times.