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Is Your Utility’s Storm Response Strategy Up to Scratch?

Posted on Jan 22, 2021 2:41:02 PM

Following last year’s tropical storm, Isaias, that left customers across the east coast of the US without power (which we covered in our blog ‘The Importance of Customer Communication During Power Outages), a group of officials in the state of New York have released 42 recommendations on how utility companies can improve their storm response.

The Storm Response Report released by Westchester County Executive George Latimer, state Assemblywoman Amy Paulin and United Westchester, has listed a number of recommendations, including improved communication and upgrading infrastructure.

United Westchester - a coalition of local, county and state officials - has been working on the Utility Storm Response Report since 2018, after storms Riley and Quinn caused devastation and power outages in Westchester County.

While the report was created specifically for utility’s in the state of New York, it’s certainly something that the wider industry can learn from and use to improve their storm response strategies as they move forward. 

What are the recommendations on how utility’s can improve the storm response plan?

The report calls on utility companies to keep improving their storm response plan in a number of ways. While these recommendations are specific to the utility’s in the state that the report is addressing, we have summarised some of the generic suggestions that will help storm responses of the entire industry.

Here are some of the key recommendations suggested by the report:

  • The use of smart meters to track customers who are without power, creating a live interactive outage map for public viewing 
  • A regularly updated and shared list of critical facilities
  • Better internal communications between management, field and workers
  • Better supply and distribution of dry ice
  • A 10-year storm hardening plan and implementation
  • Improved coordination with electric utility companies during post-storm restoration efforts
  • Fixing customer service tools and availability
  • Providing municipal officials with operational contacts
  • Giving customers credits when they lose access to telecommunications services

How a customer portal can improve your utility’s storm and outage response plan

In times of utility outage, customer satisfaction, on-time alerts and notifications are key. That’s why utilities need to provide customers with timely and  accurate information with the ability for them to be able to contact you if required. 

In the past, this was incredibly difficult for utility providers to execute. They simply didn’t have the technology required to update customers with accurate and timely information at each stage of a power outage.That has now changed. Technology has evolved dramatically, and customer portals (such as the award-winning SilverBlaze Customer Portal for Utilities) can now significantly improve the communication and relationship your utility has with its customers.

Whether using the portal through a web browser or a mobile application, customers can access all the information they need in one centralized location and utility providers can send out real-time messages to keep their customers updated on outages, storm response and much more.

A well-thought-out customer portal will help your utility’s storm response plan by:

  • Empowering your utility with the ability to send real-time, direct notifications and alerts straight to your customer’s preferred device
  • Providing your customers with an outage map, based on Google Maps
  • Enabling outage report forms that help your engineering and operations team to resolve issues faster
  • And many other benefits!

Want to learn how the SilverBlaze Customer Portal for Utilities can improve your utility’s storm response plan? Contact our team of utility customer experience experts today. We would love to tell you more about how our award-winning software can transform customer engagement, collaboration and satisfaction.

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Topics: Customer Service