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How Real-Time Outage Notifications Improve Customer Satisfaction

Posted on Jun 26, 2018 9:46:42 AM

Outage notifications are pretty simple, and with the right technology they are easy to implement into your utility’s service. This forward-thinking approach to customer relationships can significantly enhance your 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. 

There’s not always a way of knowing how long a power outage might occur, but your customer at least wants to know if they have time to do something else while they wait.

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Take the example of someone working from home. They are sitting at home working from their desktop, when all of a sudden their power is out and they have no way of continuing their work. Do they go out and do something while they wait or do they hold on 15 minutes until the power is back up and running. 15 minutes could turn into one hour and one hour into three.

The customer that gets a notification from their provider, whether the wait is 15 minutes or four hours, is now aware of what they can do in the meantime and is thankful to their provider for warning them. The consumer that doesn’t receive a notification is more than likely sitting there becoming increasingly infuriated at not knowing, working up the courage to write their utility provider a bad review.

Consumers are unfortunately more likely to write a bad review than a good one. The key to improving customer satisfaction scores and attracting loyal, satisfied customers for life is going above and beyond with your customer experience.

So, what are outage notifications?

When a power outage occurs, this, in the mind of your consumers, affects your reliability. With the right messaging, however, a bad experience can be turned into a positive one through world-class customer service.

J.D. Power’s 2017 Overall Residential Electricity Utility Residential Customer Satisfaction survey reads: “An increase in outage communications was one of the main reasons for the rise in customer approval across the [utility] industry.”

Customers want to know that a utility company is aware of the problem, is working on fixing it and an estimated time of when the power will be fixed. A simple proactive message can be sent through either a text, a smartphone notification or even through an interactive voice message.

A simple 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.”

Give specific and frequent updates

A simple direct message can change your customer’s experience from a bad one to a good one, but you must make sure that your message answers the questions of your consumers and doesn’t leave them more irritated than before.

Customers want to know the most important question, “When will my power be restored?’. But, today they are also asking more questions and seeking more information. You’ll want to keep customers in the loop by answering questions such as “What caused the outage?” and “Which area is it affecting?”

New notifications should be sent as new information develops, and new time estimates should be sent as the outage progresses.

How does your utility provider implement outage notifications?

SilverBlaze offers a web extension to our popular SilverBlaze Customer Portal, known as the Utility Outage Management System (OMS) module. The OMS provides a web interface for the customers of utility providers to sign up for outage notifications via email or SMS text.

Customers are also able to report outages to your operations team, as well as view an outage map showing current outages. This increased dialogue with your provider, will improve the customer experience and enable them to feel more connected with your organization.

The utility provider OMS Web Extensions Portal 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.

To learn more about our Utility Outage Management System, contact us today!

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Topics: Customer Engagement