As we move through spring and draw ever-closer to summer, the North American storm season draws nearer.
Whether it be hurricane season on the Atlantic coast, wildfires in California or tornadoes in the midwest, utility providers must ensure they have successful storm response and management programs implemented that keep their customers in the loop.
In fact, as extreme weather becomes more commonplace, effective utility storm response becomes even more critical to successful customer engagement and a superior customer experience.
In this blog, we’re going to look at why utility storm response is critical and show you three simple steps that help build a faster response that keeps customers in the loop every step of the way.
Why Storm Response is Important For Utility Customers
When a storm results in a power outage for your customers, storm response and management strategy is essential. Customers won’t be happy simply sitting in their home waiting for the lights to turn back on, they want to see your utility proactively trying to solve the situation.
Whether your consumer is at home trying to do their work, making a meal for their family or simply watching TV, people are busy and do not want to sit around wasting time while their electricity comes back on.
We live in an immediate world where consumers can reach the information they need with the click of a button – and the utility sector is no different. Consumers want real-time updates on why there is a power outage, what your utility is doing to fix the issue and a rough estimate of when the power may be back up.
Storm outages do not only affect consumers at home either, but they also impact businesses that operate on your power grid. Storm outages for businesses could result in:
⦁ Spoiled inventory.
⦁ Delayed or missed business opportunities.
Why Storm Response is Important for Your Utility
By creating a storm response plan, your utility will ensure it’s prepared to manage storm outages – even if the number and duration of outages exceed your initial expectations.
The result? Press coverage that could have easily been negative is actually positive, your customer experience is seamless and customers are satisfied with your service, and your business was able to reduce costs and impacts to your business operations due to the efficient way you handled the storm.
How to Improve Your Utility Storm Response in 3 Steps
Step #1 – Prioritize Getting a Damage Estimate
The damage of a storm will form the basis of your entire utility storm response plan, so getting clarity into this information as soon as possible will help you build a successful strategy. This should start by understanding the storm strength before it even hits, and then learning the damage as soon as you can.
Having a prediction of the damage ahead of time can help you build a plan for the worst case scenario, while a speed evaluation of the actual damage will enable you to tweak your plan and give accurate updates to your customers.
Step #2 – Communicate Regular Updates to Your Utility Customers
One of the most important aspects of your storm response and management program should be setting up a storm notification and alert system that updates your customers with real-time messages.
Proactive communication will answer all of your customer questions with detailed and accurate outage information, and estimates of when their power will be back up and running.
Not only does this provide a superior experience for your customers through personalized updates that build customer trust in your company, it will reduce the number of calls to your customer service department as well as reduce the number of visits to your website. In turn, this could cripple your site if the appropriate hardware infrastructure is not in place to handle the high volume of visits.
Learn how the SilverBlaze Customer Portal for Utilities can improve customer engagement.
Step #3 – Get Your Resources to the Required Locations
With information on the damage and initial updates sent to your customer, it’s time to start scheduling your resources to the required locations (as long as it’s safe to do so). To ensure you are fixing everything that needs to be fixed, encourage customers to report outage information to your organizations.
By creating a two-way dialogue that encourages customers to send your utility outage information, you can ensure that the most up-to-date information is being collected and routed to your engineering and operations teams. This will speed up the resolution time.
Want to learn how SilverBlaze’s unique Customer Portal for Utilities can help your utility implement a successful storm response and management strategy? Contact our team of experts today. We would be more than happy to answer any questions that you have.