For your energy utility, planned power outages are necessary for regular maintenance and reliability improvements. But for your customers, a planned outage — just like any other outage — is a disruption to their daily routine.

That’s why your energy utility needs the right communication strategy in place to prepare both residential and business customers for planned outages.

“Compared to unplanned outages, planned outage communications are more informative and less urgent,” says Nina Cummins, Account Director at Questline Digital. “These are calmer communications that address why a planned outage is scheduled, who it affects and the estimated time of restoration. This is information you often can’t provide amid an extreme weather event.”

What to Communicate Before and During a Planned Power Outage

According to Cummins, your utility should be reaching out to customers at least a couple of weeks before a planned outage to give them ample time to prepare. For instance, with enough notice, a coffee shop can inform customers about a change in business hours due to the outage.

Since customers appreciate transparency, your utility’s communications should clearly explain the reasons for the planned power outage. It’s also important to have an apologetic tone, acknowledging the inconvenience and disruption. For example, “We chose these times for our scheduled maintenance to ensure the least amount of disturbance to our customers.”

Your utility’s communications should always provide an estimated restoration time. However, you should be on the conservative side in case maintenance takes longer than expected. “When your utility restores power earlier than expected, C-SAT scores go up,” Cummins says. “This has a profound impact on customer satisfaction.”

Follow these tips when communicating a planned power outage:

  • Use an apologetic and understanding tone
  • Reach out to customers weeks in advance
  • Be transparent about the reason for the outage
  • Provide an estimated restoration time (be conservative!)

A Southeast energy utility’s planned outage communication clearly explains the reason for the maintenance (modernizing equipment in the service area), when customers will experience the outage (between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. on May 17) and how customers can receive the latest information (by updating their contact information or signing up for text alerts).

Example of utility communications for planned power outage

In addition to transparent content, communicating in the right channels is key. Since customers have different communication preferences, a multichannel marketing strategy gives you the best chance to reach affected customers during a planned power outage. These touchpoints include:

  • Email communications (multiple emails leading up to the planned outage)
  • Social media posts for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram
  • Text alerts for customers who prefer mobile communications
  • A website page dedicated to planned power outage resources

Tri-County Electric Cooperative in Oklahoma utilizes Twitter to alert customers before the planned outage. The co-op has more than 1,600 followers on the social media platform.

Example of planned power outage communications TriCounty Oklahoma

ComEd, an energy utility serving northern Illinois, provides resources on how to prepare for a planned power outage on their website, including:

  • What to expect during a planned outage
  • Resources for staying safe and comfortable
  • Where to find the latest outage updates
  • Helpful tips for small business customers
Example of customer communications for planned power outage

Segmenting Outage Communications

Just like program promotions or eNewsletters, segmentation is a best practice for outage communications. Residential and business customers are affected in different ways and need messaging that reflects their unique situations.

For example, business customers will experience downtime and may need to reduce or stop operations during a planned power outage. Residential customers may need to change plans or take steps beforehand, such as charging their smartphones or unplugging electrical equipment. Through segmentation, your messages can provide audience-specific tips and resources.

“I always recommend segmenting your email communications for business and residential customers because they have completely different needs,” Cummins says. “You may even want to go a step further and segment your business customers by industry since each industry has unique challenges during an outage.”

For business customers, communicate the following during a planned power outage:

  • Suggest notifying their customers if they plan to close or change hours
  • Recommend appliances or equipment to turn off until power is restored
  • Provide contact information if they have any questions or concerns

Ensuring customer satisfaction stays strong

Despite an energy utility’s best efforts, some customers will not receive your outage communications. That’s why it’s important to provide customer service staff with pertinent information about the planned power outage. This ensures customers who call in will have their questions answered, helping to minimize any impact on customer satisfaction.

Energy utilities should also consider training for the customer service department on gathering contact information when a customer calls in. For example, a script could say, “How would you prefer to be contacted? This ensures that you’re not caught off guard for future planned outages.”

In addition to customer service scripts, your energy utility can take advantage of email and social media campaigns to obtain customer contact information, like this post from AEP Ohio.

Example of planned power outage communications from AEP Ohio

What to Communicate After a Planned Power Outage

Once power has been restored, Cummins recommends sending a “thank you” message to let customers know your utility appreciates their patience and understanding. This “blue sky” messaging should also speak to the importance of planned outages to keep the power running smoothly and avoid any issues in the future.

Your post-outage communications should also encourage customers to sign up for outage text or email alerts. To avoid any surprises, these notifications will prepare customers for future planned power outages.

Regular maintenance is essential for reliable power, but it can negatively impact the customer experience. With proactive communications, your energy utility can ensure a planned power outage doesn’t mean a dip in customer satisfaction.

Discover how an Outage Communications strategy from Questline Digital can help your customers prepare for the next planned maintenance event.

When severe weather threatens, your energy utility may need to send power outage notification emails to customers. To level-set customer expectations and ensure long-term customer satisfaction, your outage communications strategy shouldn’t wait until an outage happens.

Optimize your outage strategy with an outage communication template that includes useful information and resources customers will need before, during and after a severe weather event.

Chart showing outage communications workflow and listing email messages a utility should send before during and after an outage

A Surge in Severe Weather

In recent years, extreme weather has become more common across the U.S. According to the National Centers for Environmental Information, the U.S. averaged 17.2 severe weather events per year from 2017 to 2021, including flooding, severe storms and wildfires. In comparison, between 1980 and 2017, there was only an average of 7.4 severe weather events per year.

This trend can be seen in the growing popularity of power outage notification emails sent by energy utilities from coast to coast. According to Questline Digital’s Energy Utility Benchmarks Report, customers are highly engaged with outage communications, with a 27.1% open rate for residential customers and a 36.6% open rate for business customers.

Outage messages are consistently among the highest open rates of all utility email categories:

Chart showing performance metrics of outage communications template

Energy utility customers value storm and outage-related messages. As storm intensity continues to grow, an effective and customer-centric outage communications template will become even more vital for energy utilities.

Power Outage Communication Template: Before the Storm

While you can’t stop severe weather, you can help your customers prepare for it. An effective outage communication template should include an introduction to your energy utility’s outage resources, seasonal safety tips and other useful information.

This is the perfect time to educate customers about your energy utility’s outage resources and services, such as where to go to find the latest outage information or how to report an outage.

3 key topics for pre-storm communications

  1. Outage alert opt-ins: Encourage your customers to sign up for outage alerts with a proactive, omni-channel preparation campaign.
  2. Outage resources: Educate customers about your energy utility’s online resources, directing them to your outage center or outage resource page.
  3. Seasonal safety tips: Share summer and winter storm safety tips, as well as how to prepare for a power outage.

With the help of Questline Digital, a Southeast energy utility created a powerful creative campaign as part of their outage communication template. The goal was to inspire customers to receive text alerts and not feel powerless during an outage.

The campaign targeted customers who were not already signed up for text alerts with messaging focused on the benefits of real-time notifications like utility power restored alerts.

Example of outage communications email to improve utility customer satisfaction

Power Outage Communication Template: During the Storm

When an outage happens, urgency and transparency are key. It’s important to share updates as quickly as possible with customers across multiple channels, including power outage notification emails, text alerts and social media.

During an outage, customers appreciate acknowledgement of the situation from their energy utility, along with ongoing updates to keep them informed. Energy utilities can educate customers on the important steps involved in restoration, from assessing the damage to addressing emergency situations. This gives customers a better understanding of what it takes to restore power.

Build trust with transparent outage updates

Your outage communication template should include the following information during an outage event:

  • Storms are coming: Inform customers that severe weather is expected and could lead to outages. Don’t forget to provide storm and outage safety tips.
  • Outages have impacted the area: Provide as much detail as possible to affected customers in a power outage notification email, including the extent of the outage and number of customers impacted.
  • Power restoration efforts are underway: Communicate regularly on restoration efforts and when customers can expect power to be restored.
  • Reason for the outage: Transparency is key. If the cause is determined, share this additional information with customers.
  • Power has been restored: Thank customers for their patience with a utility power restored alert. Be sure to include contact information in case they are still experiencing issues with their electricity.

Whether storm prep or outage resources, there is no one-size-fits-all for your outage communication template. In this sample outage notification from Con Edison, the energy utility provides customers with an “Outage Recovery Guide” in the midst of an outage:

Sample of outage notification email from energy utility

A sample outage notification from PSEG Long Island is a great example of transparent communications. The email explains the reason for the outage — in this case, a major snowstorm. The energy utility then acknowledges that power restoration may take time due to the dangerous driving and outdoor working conditions.

Sample of outage notification email with restoration information

Power Outage Communication Template: After the Storm

After an outage event, your energy utility should reevaluate your communication strategy to see what is and isn’t working. Keep these questions in mind:

  • What channels are best to communicate outage information?
  • How many power outage notification emails should our energy utility send?
  • When should outage updates be sent?
  • Are we communicating enough information to customers?

Your outage communication template should include a follow-up email a couple days or weeks after an outage. This is a great opportunity to encourage your customers to sign up for outage text alerts, ensuring they are prepared for future outages. With the outage still top of mind, this email creates a compelling motivator for customers to sign up for alerts.

A large IOU in the Northeast sent a thank-you email to customers for their “kindness, patients and resiliency” after a gas supply interruption that presented significant challenges:

Example of power outage notification email

Get Ready for Severe Weather with an Outage Action Plan

Effective outage communications requires much more than a simple power outage notification email. Be proactive with outage communications to ensure customer safety, encourage engagement and increase customer signups for outage-related programs.

The right outage communication template can help your customers find peace of mind when the power goes out — and help your energy utility achieve long-term customer satisfaction.

Provide essential information before, during and after severe weather with an outage communications strategy from Questline Digital.

Customer journey mapping is essential for energy utilities. As the industry focuses on becoming more customer centric and improving the customer experience, utilities must optimize every interaction.

Where once customers were seen merely as account numbers or “ratepayers,” new technologies and advancements across all industries are changing customers’ expectations of how they interact with their utilities.

Energy utility customers interact regularly with many other businesses, and it’s their experience with those industries that sets expectations. The more businesses like Disney, Amazon and Apple improve their customer experiences, the more consumers expect from their energy provider.

The importance of utility customer experience management

Because of this dynamic change in relationships, utility customer experience management — the intentional planning and implementation of interactions across all channels and touchpoints — is critical to deliver a consistently excellent experience.

Why is utility customer experience important? For a variety of reasons, but primarily because well-designed and implemented experiences increase customer engagement. Increased customer engagement in turn builds customer satisfaction. The outcomes of customer satisfaction can include:

  • More participation in programs
  • Increased enrollment in paperless billing
  • Higher use of self-service channels
  • Lower cost to service
  • Greater customer advocacy and loyalty

Mapping the customer journey for energy utilities

A great way to approach the process of improving the customer experience is by developing a utility customer journey map that looks at these events collectively.

McKinsey describes a journey as “the process a customer goes through to complete a particular task, such as opening an account or resolving an error.”

These journeys often encompass multiple departments and varying mediums. For example, a customer journey to purchase a smart thermostat might involve touchpoints in multiple channels — website navigation and search, e-commerce, email, phone calls, a technician visit for installation, etc.

When developing a utility customer journey map, be sure to capture the key moments of truth. Those specific positive and negative touchpoints that make or break how customers perceive their utility.

Other journeys might include customer onboarding, bill payment, an outage, interacting with customer service or various program enrollments. These journeys work together to build the entirety of a utility’s customer experience.

To truly be customer centric, utilities must map out and understand all the possible touchpoints and outcomes along the customer’s journey.

Here are key journeys your utility should consider:

WELCOME

First impressions are everything. This is when your new customer decides if it’s easy or cumbersome to work with your utility. Can they easily find all the information they need? Do they know where to turn for help? Is your utility going to be an ongoing resource? Or will they face headaches down the road?

Answering these questions upfront and setting the right tone is essential for the launch of your customers’ journeys. Build an onboarding workflow that gives customers everything they need.

Through deployment of thousands of Welcome Series, Questline Digital has determined that it’s best to send between three and five emails upon the start of service. These emails include the following information:

  • Welcome message from leadership
  • Instructions for My Account set up
  • Prompts for eBill enrollment
  • Payment assistance resources
  • Guidance for eNewsletter or Preference Center sign up
  • Outage alert enrollment reminders
  • Explanation of available programs
  • Energy efficiency and cost savings tips

Depending on your community, your energy utility may need multiple welcome workflows that speak to different audiences. Common targets include first-time customers, moving customers, commercial business owners and small business owners.

PAYMENT OPTIONS

Ensure clients are aware of the payment options available to them. Look at the experiences for those who pay via mail and online. What hurdles do they hit along the way? Where can improvements be made?

Paperless billing enrollment is known to increase customer satisfaction. According to Fiserv’s Eighth Annual Consumer Billing Household Survey, 68% of consumers acknowledge increased satisfaction with their biller when they receive electronic statements.

So, set the stage early and get customers enrolled in My Account and eBill as early as possible. The sooner customers are enrolled, the better their overall utility customer journey will be.

OUTAGE COMMUNICATIONS

An outage experience is a key moment of truth, as it will certainly impact a utility’s J.D. Power customer satisfaction score. Customer journey mapping before an outage could include:

  • Ongoing outage education
  • Outage preparation communications
  • Registration for outage notifications
  • Inspiring interaction and two-way conversation

These steps would be delivered as emails, texts, automated calls, social media posts or conversations, website tools, bill inserts and brochures.

Other forms of outage communications would then occur during a planned or an unexpected outage. Whether your utility is providing a single report, or sending updates along the way, every touchpoint must be thoughtfully executed.

PROGRAM PARTICIPATION

Beyond the basic customer lifecycle and outage communications journeys, utilities are also now exploring customer journey mapping for specific programs and products.

Solar program customers, for example, will not only rely on their utility for educational resources ahead of making a decision, but also throughout the financing, contract, installation, monitoring and maintenance phases of their solar use.

The more holistic a utility can make specific interactions along a product journey, the higher customer engagement, satisfaction and advocacy will be later.

ONGOING COMMUNICATIONS

We see consistently stronger engagement metrics with customers who receive ongoing communications, as compared to customers who receive only sporadic, one-time messages from their energy company.

In-between journeys, there is the overarching and long-term utility customer experience. This includes what happens between traditional bill payment and outage alerts, including:

  • Providing energy efficiency advice to customers during high bill seasons
  • Encouraging customers to take advantage of available rebates and promotions
  • Signing customers up for your monthly eNewsletter

Stay top of mind and enhance the customer journey by giving customers helpful information exactly when they need it.

Map out your utility customer experience

Start your conversation today about the importance of customer centricity and journey mapping a positive customer experience.

How do customers begin their journey with your energy utility? Build a strong relationship from day one with a Welcome Series.

The sky darkens. Thunder rumbles in the distance. There’s a boom! The power goes out. An energy utility customer has an important project due later in the day. Will the power be back on before then? Does her energy provider even know it’s out?

Power outages are a frustrating experience for customers, negatively impacting their daily lives. Both residential and business customers depend on outage communications from their energy utility to mitigate the impact of an outage and plan their day accordingly.

Depending on how your energy utility handles the situation, the right outage communications can actually improve customer satisfaction. Discover what actions to take before, during and after an outage to ensure your customers are prepared when the lights go out.

What are outage communications?

Energy utility customers don’t want to be left in the dark during a power outage. For energy utilities, outage communications are a vital way to keep customers informed when a storm is approaching or when an outage occurs. Outage communications, whether emails, text alerts or social posts, provide important details like the number of customers impacted, locations affected by the outage and estimated restoration times.

Every energy utility has a different strategy for handling outage communications, but those with higher levels of customer satisfaction have a few things in common. In particular, they focus on continuous and transparent communications with their customers.  

How do outage communications impact utility customer satisfaction?

For energy utilities, the right outage communications strategy is essential for long-term customer satisfaction. Questline Digital’s metrics find that 82% of customers prefer proactive communications during an outage. Additionally, customers are more responsive to outage communications than other types of energy utility messages.

According to Questline Digital’s Energy Utility Benchmarks Report, the open rate of outage communication emails is 31.4%, the highest engagement next to Welcome Series and billing notifications. Not surprisingly, energy utilities using outage communications are experiencing higher customer satisfaction numbers. For example, Questline Digital clients using outage alerts received some of the highest approval ratings in their respective segments.

J.D. Power has measured a direct connection between outage communications and customer satisfaction. According to the J.D. Power 2018 Electric Utility Residential Customer Satisfaction Study, overall satisfaction among customers who receive outage communications is much higher than among those who do not receive such information.

“Proactive communications, primarily delivered through digital channels, such as email, text message or social media post, are having a significant positive impact on residential electric utility customer satisfaction,” said John Hazen, senior director of the energy practice at J.D. Power. “Power outages are going to happen. The more proactive electric utilities are in clearly communicating information about the cause, anticipated duration and repair of an outage, the more satisfied their customers will be with their overall service.”

According to Chartwell’s 2020 Residential Consumer Survey, 60% of customers were satisfied with their energy utility’s communications during outages. However, this was dependent on how well the utility communicated estimated restoration times and what type of communication channels were used.

What messages to send before, during and after a storm

Energy utilities need to consider what outage communications will be sent out before, during and after an outage, and how best to reach customers to achieve higher levels of customer satisfaction. The right outage communications strategy makes all the difference, whether your energy utility is sharing storm and outage safety tips ahead of storm season or sending power outage notification emails to keep customers informed.

Best practices for outage preparation emails

The prep work starts long before a storm is imminent. Energy utilities should send outage communications at the start of summer and winter storm seasons, informing customers of key services like outage text alerts and outage maps, as well as essential safety tips. If your energy utility has an online outage center, it’s important to make it current and have a backup plan is in place in case the technology fails.

For example, a Southeast energy utility developed a creative campaign to promote text alerts that emboldened customers with the strong message of “Take Your Power Back.” The powerful campaign inspired customers to sign up to receive power restoration alerts and other outage-related texts so they could prepare before a storm or potential outage.

The campaign targeted customers who were not already signed up for text alerts with messaging focused on the benefits of real-time notifications. A clear call-to-action drove customers to My Account to sign up. By receiving these instant outage communications, the campaign emphasized how customers would no longer feel powerless during an outage.

Example of outage communications email to improve utility customer satisfaction

To prepare customers ahead of time, Duke Energy promotes its mobile app on social media as an easy way to report outages and check for restoration updates. Outage communications like this social media campaign help customers to better prepare for future outages, ensuring greater customer satisfaction.

Example of outage communications social post to improve utility customer satisfaction

Best practices for power outage notification emails

During a storm, emails, text alerts and social posts communicate that energy utilities are ready and have a solid restoration plan in place. These messages should also inform customers about the size of the outage, which areas are affected, what caused the outage and when power is estimated to be restored.

When a winter storm hit the Northeast, PSEG Long Island sent out a power outage notification email informing customers that the storm was causing hazardous weather conditions. The email also alerted customers that the energy utility’s crews were working to restore power to all customers affected as quickly as possible.

Example of outage communications email to improve utility customer satisfaction

To make it easy for customers to report an outage or receive updates, the outage communication also provided links to PSEG Long Island’s Storm Center, outage map and social media channels. It also included helpful storm safety tips.

Example of outage communications social post to improve utility customer satisfaction
Example of outage communications message to improve utility customer satisfaction

Consumers Energy sent a power outage notification email to share important details with its Michigan customers about the restoration process underway, while also being transparent that more severe weather is expected. The email provided safety tips and links where customers could check the status of an outage and sign up for restoration text alerts.

Example of outage communications email to improve utility customer satisfaction

Best practices for utility power restored alerts

Once a storm has passed and power has been restored, utility power restored alerts are the final step in your outage communications. These communications notify customers that power has been restored and thank them for their patience.

Following the damage caused by Hurricane Ida, Entergy shared regular updates regarding the power restoration process on Twitter. One post linked to the utility’s newsroom, which highlighted that the Category 4 hurricane commanded the largest restoration workforce in the company’s history. While showcasing the impressive work of the Entergy team, the utility’s power restored alert tempered expectations for customers who may still be without power.

Example of outage communications social post to improve utility customer satisfaction

When an outage happens, it can make or break the energy utility customer experience. But the way your energy utility responds to the situation makes all the difference. For long-term customer satisfaction, your energy utility needs an outage communications strategy that is ongoing, transparent and connects with customers on multiple channels.

Discover how an Outage Communications solution from Questline Digital can boost customer satisfaction for your energy utility.

Whether it’s hurricanes, high winds, extreme heat or cold, every utility faces its own set of weather-related issues that can leave customers in the dark. More energy companies are using social media in their outage communications plans to reassure customers and share updates.

But some utilities may be wondering about the best practices in outage communications – are they posting the right information, at the right time, on the right channels, or even reaching the right customers.

Social media is an absolute must-have in our digital world. Customers will often visit your energy utility’s social media pages to find answers to questions or updates on service information before they ever click through to your website. This is why it’s important your social media is built up with appropriate links, FAQs and posts with relevant information that have your customers in mind.

When it comes to communicating outages, social media is your utility’s best friend. It allows you to provide quick updates so customers aren’t left in the dark. Continue reading for best practices in outage communications and examples.

What are outage communications?

Outage communications are an essential part of any energy utility’s marketing and communications strategy. When the power goes out, customers need answers. They look to your energy utility for explanations, details and estimated restoration times, in addition to safety and security protocols.

In the past, best practices in outage communication may have centered around emails, phone calls or even fax. Now, however, customers expect immediate updates via text alerts, real-time outage maps and social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

Best practices in outage communication

Power outages can leave customers concerned and confused, but your relevant, quick communications can help alleviate these feelings. Keeping customers informed of outages is generally the same across all platforms. You must:

  • Alert customers as soon as possible
  • Send follow-up links of outage maps or restoration times
  • Provide safety tips and suggestions
  • Respond to customer questions or concerns

Best practices in outage communication comes down to your utility making customers the top priority. Proactive and timely information is what social media is all about. The more you can tell customers about the situation, the better.

Its best to share information on multiple platforms including email, text, your website and social media to ensure your customers see the updates on the platform of their choosing. However, remember to post frequently on social media, as this is where customers tend to turn for quick information in today’s digital age.

How to use social media in your outage communication plan

Statistics show that 3.96 billion people currently use social media worldwide. According to the Pew Research Center, more than 72% of U.S. adults use at least one social media site, with 69% saying they use Facebook, 40% Instagram and 23% Twitter.

It’s important to have a social presence for various reasons, including:

  • Customer choice – It provides another way to meet customers where they are
  • More connection points – In addition to email or phone calls, now you can engage with customers on social media
  • Show humanity and brand personality – Customers want and expect to see more behind-the-scenes and genuine content on social media
  • Control the story – Your social media page, your story; control what customers see about your utility with a planned social media strategy
  • Overcome misinformation – “Facts” spread like wildfire on social media, which makes it all the more important to set the record straight quickly

It’s clear that social media isn’t going anywhere. While your energy utility doesn’t need to be on every single social media platform, it’s important you know which ones your customers are using so you can quickly reach them with pertinent information. We suggest using Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for real-time updates and using YouTube to post and share proactive safety videos well in advance of an outage.

When using social media, keep in mind these best practices for outage communications:

  • Customers appreciate frequent, real-time updates rather than waiting for one large update. Doing so can help your utility see a reduction in call center traffic and customer frustration.
  • Use social media to drive customers to other important outage information, like your outage map or safety tips. It’s a good idea to keep one page of your website dedicated to this information.
  • Confirm when full restoration has been reached and thank customers for their patience. No one likes being in the dark – your communications and gratitude will help customers feel like they know what’s happening every step of the way.
  • Listen and respond – customers will often post questions or concerns on your utility’s social pages or posts. It’s important to not let these comments fall by the wayside. Respond accordingly with reassuring tones and as much information as you can, including links to your outage map, real-time restoration updates or safety tips.

Successful customer engagement on social media

At CS Week 2021, Oncor shared that their real-time updates were powerful contributors to increased follower counts after big-weather events. For example, they saw a 68% increase in Twitter followers during the five days of Texas storms earlier this year.

Customers want and expect replies to their comments or questions on social media and, more-so, expect them in a timely fashion. According to Statista, 47% of U.S. consumers have a more favorable view of brands that respond to customer questions or complaints on social media. Further, customers expect a response within one hour, yet 45% of brands take more than five days to respond to messages.

Replying quickly to customers with relevant information can lead to a positive customer experience, which in turn leads to:

  • Brand loyalty
  • Increased sales
  • Customer retention

When replying to customers, consider when to handle a situation publicly or privately. Many times, it helps to answer questions publicly for other customers to easily see the answers. Plus, this shows that you are, in fact, replying to comments. However, sometimes there is sensitive information involved, like requiring an account number or address to further investigate a situation. In these cases, publicly replying to the customer that the conversation should become private will still show your utility as a responsive resource, while keeping the customers’ information secure.

This is typically how Oncor handles situations as well. At CS Week 2021 they said that 93% of their customer service requests on social media are related to outages and 77% of those are posted publicly for all to see. Their goal, however, is to respond publicly with a personal note, but ultimately move it to a private chat.

Examples of outage communications on social media

Social Media Meteorologist – Facebook

Oncor hired a meteorologist specific to their social media team to report on real-time storms and outages in live videos and posts on their platforms. This is a unique approach to delivering relevant and quick information to customers.

Example of outage communications on social media

Listen and Respond – Facebook

In response to a post about crews working to restore power, many Duquesne Light Company customers had questions about when they could expect their power to be back. DLC quickly responded to comments about the expected restoration times and thanked customers for their patience.

Example of outage communications on social media

Be Proactive and Know Your Customers – Facebook

San Diego Gas & Electric knows that it has a wide variety of both English and Spanish speakers in its customer segments. Because of this, the utility is quick to post important safety messages in both languages, like this message on signing up for outage alerts.

Example of outage communications on social media
Example of outage communications on social media

Proactive Emergency Kit Video – YouTube

Help ensure your customers know what to do in case of emergency. San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) made a helpful YouTube video showing how one family prepared an emergency kit. For many people, the list of standard emergency kit items may not be enough. Watching a video demonstration may get the point across.

The video also demonstrates an evacuation, reminding viewers that friends and family members outside the emergency area should be a point of contact to relay information whenever possible. Watch the video below:

Storm Safety Tips Video Series – YouTube

Duke Energy created a series of storm safety videos in both English and Spanish for their customers, sharing insights about what to do when there is a downed power line or a damaged meter box. The videos are short, which means customers are more likely to pay attention and watch the full video. A real employee of Duke narrates the video with a reminder, “Don’t worry, help is on the way.” Watch the full video series below:

How to Report an Outage – Twitter

ComEd frequently uses Twitter to share proactive outage communications. In the tweet below, the utility explains how to report an outage or get outage updates, showcasing a quick video to visually show customers how to do these things.

Example of outage communications on social media

Outage Update – Twitter

ComEd is also quick to use Twitter for real-time outage updates, including thanking customers for their patience. In this tweet, they inform customers that they are continuing to work on restoring power lost from a storm and link over to their outage center for more information.

Example of outage communications on social media

Outage Alert – Facebook

AEP Ohio quickly took to Facebook when an outage was reported in the city. In addition to alerting customers, the post also provided additional ways for customers to stay involved, including links to their outage map, text alerts and app.

Example of outage communications on social media

Outage Alert – Facebook

In the wake of outages due to a hurricane, Entergy posted this update on Facebook with a real-time picture of the damage. They let customers know that crew members were assessing the damage and will be working to restore power as it is safe to do so. Despite the fact that they were currently unable to give a restoration update, the utility clearly keeps customers updated with information as they can. The post also links to their newsroom site on the website with further updates about the storm restoration process.

Example of outage communications on social media

Use these best practices to develop your outage communications strategy. Learn how Questline Digital can help.