Are you looking for a better way to communicate with your utility customer during an outage? Do you want to enhance customer engagement and satisfaction, even when your service is down?
Outage notifications can help you do just that.
Outage notifications are fairly intuitive, and with the right technology they are easy to implement into your utility’s service. This forward-thinking approach to your utility-customer relationship can significantly enhance your company’s customer experience.
Proactive communication should be a central part of your business strategy. It will help you to improve your customer experience, improve the overall satisfaction rating of your company and allow you to better deal with any outages when they do occur.
Why are utility outage notifications so important to customer satisfaction?
Knowing how long a power outage will last is a near-impossible task for your utility, but that doesn’t mean your customer isn’t interested in updates on the current state of an outage.
In general, most customers want to know an estimated time of how long an outage might last, exactly what has happened, and which area is experiencing the outage. If you can proactively answer these questions before your customer even reaches out to your utility, you’re already on your way to high customer satisfaction.
This is even more crucial now that so many people work from home. Your utility customers are now using your services 24/7, and that means they’re more interested than ever before that those services are running seamlessly.
Utility outages are inevitable, and the customer knows that. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t interested in what’s going on and when the service might be back up and running. If it’s a quick fix, they can hang tight and continue what they were doing - if it’s going to take longer, then they’ll plan for something else instead. But at the very least, they are made aware of the situation and can be provided with an estimated waiting time.
Proactively answering those questions gives your customers the information they need to move on to a new task if necessary. This is far more effective for your customer satisfaction strategy than just leaving them waiting, wondering what’s going on. The longer they wait without receiving any information, the more frustrated they’ll get with the service outage. The last thing you want to do is leave your utility customers in the dark, literally and figuratively.
Consumers are unfortunately more likely to write a bad review than a good one. Proactive communication can help minimize those bad reviews, turning potentially negative experiences into good ones.
That’s where utility outage notifications come in
Utility outages have an impact on how customers perceive the reliability of your utility brand.
Through notifications, and by sending the right message at the right time, a bad experience can be turned into a positive one. Yes, that’s right, you can turn a potentially frustrating experience for your customer into good one simply through world-class customer service
According to J.D. Power, “An increase in outage communications was one of the main reasons for the rise in customer approval across the [utility] industry.”
Customers simply want to know that a utility company is aware of an outage, is working to fix it, and what the estimated time of repair will be. If your utility can provide that information through a notification sent directly to a device or utility customer portal, customers will be less frustrated with an outage and happier with your service.
What should you include in your utility’s outage notifications?
While a simple message can change a customer’s experience from a bad one to a good one, a confusing message that doesn’t answer their questions can leave them even more confused and more frustrated than they were before.
To ensure customer satisfaction, focus on answering your customers key questions such as:
- What caused the outage?
- Are you working to fix the outage?
- When do you estimate the outage will be resolved?
- Which area is it affecting?
A utility outage notification could read - “Strong winds have caused outages in your area. We have dispatched field crews and are currently working to resolve the issue. We expect your power to be restored at approximately 7pm. Thank you for your patience and stay tuned for future updates.”
New notifications should be sent as new information develops, and new time estimates should be sent as the situation changes.
How can utility providers implement outage notifications?
SilverBlaze offers a web extension to our popular SilverBlaze Customer Portal for Utilities, known as the Utility Outage Management System (OMS) module. The OMS provides a web interface for utility customers to sign up for outage notifications via email or SMS or voice.
Customers are also able to report outages to their utility’s operations team, as well as view an outage map showing current outages. This increased dialogue with your customer, will improve the customer experience and enable them to feel more connected with your utility.
The utility provider OMS Web Extension module offers a wide range of customer features, including:
- Real-time, secure web service calls for OMS integration.
- Outage notification sign-up and management.
- Report Outage Forms – customer and CSR-facing.
- Outage Notifications via email or SMS text.
- An outage map based on Google maps.
- Interactive voice response web services integration.
Get a free demo of the award-winning SilverBlaze Customer Portal for Utilities and find out how our innovative outage notifications work. Alternatively, contact us today for more information.