For water utilities, ensuring a constant supply of clean and safe water is paramount. However, maintenance, repairs and unforeseen circumstances can lead to temporary water interruptions.

These planned interruptions, while necessary, can often cause significant inconvenience to customers. Therefore, it’s crucial that water utilities implement an effective water utility communication plan to notify customers and manage expectations.

“With planned water interruptions, we have a more precise idea of the scope of the work, and therefore, can more accurately predict how long it will take and how long the customer will be without water,” says John Cox, General Superintendent of the Water Distribution Division, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP). “We have the benefit of time and can do a more thorough job of providing notifications.”

Creating a Water Utility Communication Plan

A successful communications plan for planned water interruptions is essential. It not only prepares customers for what they can expect, but also positions your water utility as a transparent and trusted resource. Clear communication is key.

  • Identify affected customers: Notify all customers affected by the water interruption. In addition to residential customers, consider local businesses, schools and hospitals that might need special preparations.  
  • Define key messages: Keep messages clear, concise and empathetic. Explain the reason for the interruption, the anticipated duration and any steps customers should take. Water interruption communications should answer as many customer questions as possible.
  • Choose communication channels: Ensure your water utility reaches as many customers as possible with a multichannel water utility communications plan. This might include emails, bill inserts, social media, website content, educational webinars, community events, call center scripts and more.
  • Coordinate with respective support groups: Collaborate with the necessary groups, whether community partners, local media, government departments or other agencies to get the message out to local businesses and residents.  
  • Have a contingency plan: If the water interruption goes longer than expected, make sure you have a plan B to mitigate negative customer experiences.

Notifying Customers About Water Interruptions

The foundation of any successful water utility communication plan is proactive outreach. When water utilities foresee an interruption, they should immediately inform affected customers. This advance warning allows customers to make necessary preparations, such as storing water or making changes to their schedule or business operations. 

In addition to proactive communications, transparency is key. With a planned water interruption, utilities should provide affected customers with as much information as possible. Remember, the difference between a minor inconvenience and a major grievance often lies in the effectiveness of your communications strategy in setting customer expectations.

Essential information in a water utility communication plan includes:

  • The reason for the interruption: Whether it’s maintenance, upgrades or emergency repairs, explaining the reason for the planned water disruption helps build customer trust, confidence and understanding.
  • Start and end time: Clearly state when the water service will be interrupted and when it is expected to resume.
  • Affected areas: Detail which neighborhoods or areas will be affected to avoid unnecessary concern among unaffected customers.
  • Preparation tips: Offer advice on how customers can prepare, such as storing water, not turning on the faucet, and more.
  • Alerts and contact information: Provide information on where to get updates and who to contact with questions. This might include a link to sign up for utility alerts.

Channels to Communicate with Water Utility Customers

Utilizing multiple communication channels ensures that your message reaches as broad an audience as possible. Here are several effective channels for a water utility communication plan:

  • Door hangers and letters: Traditional media like door hangers, letters and bill inserts are an effective way to reach customers. 
  • Social media: Platforms like Facebook, X (Twitter) and Instagram are invaluable for reaching a wide audience. Updates on social media can keep the public updated in real time.
  • SMS alerts: Text messages are an excellent way to directly notify customers, especially for time-sensitive information.
  • Email notifications: For detailed updates, including maps and other visual elements, email marketing is an effective tool.
  • Website updates: Maintain a dedicated section on your website for planned water interruptions where customers can find detailed information and updates.
  • Local media: For extensive water interruptions, partnering with local newspapers, radio stations and TV channels can enhance outreach.

According to Cox, LADWP gives customers at least 72 hours advanced notice before any planned water outages. The project team, which can include contractors and LADWP crews, distributes notices to customers as part of the water utility communication plan.

Door hangers containing notification letters with pertinent information is the most effective method for communicating with their customers. LADWP shares the date and time of the interruption, the reason for the interruption as well as contact information in case they’d like to reach out for more details. Since water interruptions are an inconvenience, it’s also imperative to thank customers for their patience.

“We tend to deliver those letters door-to-door, and often we encounter the customer in person during this process,” Cox says. “Therefore, we have the benefit of explaining the upcoming work that we plan to do and the impact to the area. Door-to-door notification is the most effective method for us because it ensures that each affected resident will receive written notification at their home.”

For larger planned water interruptions, LADWP’s Community Affairs team will post information on the social media platform Nextdoor, which allows users to geotarget to a specific group. This ensures that the message is sent to affected customers.

Example of a social media page communicating a planned water utility interruption

“If a significantly large area will be experiencing a planned water interruption, we may also contact the local Neighborhood Council,” Cox says. “They can help notify customers through their channels and contacts. Using both letters and Nextdoor tends to be sufficient to blanket an affected area under normal circumstances.”

Trussville Gas & Water, which services customers in Alabama, is dedicated to proactive communications about planned water interruptions. The utility underwent a major 10-month infrastructure project to replace 2.5 miles of water pipeline, which caused temporary water interruptions for approximately 900 residents.

Their water utility communication plan featured multiple communication channels, including digital and traditional platforms. To notify affected customers, Trussville Gas & Water placed large signs in front of affected subdivisions in the community.

Example of a web ad from a water utility communicating a planned water interruption

Additionally, the utility updated customers on their website and Facebook page. To reach a wider audience, they also reached out to the local newspaper, the Trussville Tribune, to publish project updates.

Communicating Water Interruptions to Business Customers

When it comes to communicating planned water interruptions to business customers, utilities must take a different approach. Collaboration with local businesses and community partners is vital.

For multifamily buildings and apartments, Seattle Public Utilities works with landlords and management companies to ensure residents are aware of the water interruption and know what steps they need to take.

Example of a water utility website communicating a planned water interruption to customers

Additionally, the utility works with local businesses to determine the best time to shut off water to mitigate the negative impact on operations. As a result, water interruptions may take place overnight or after business hours.

LADWP’s Customer Service Key Accounts team and Corporate Communications and Strategy Division’s Community Affairs are vitally important to the utility’s communication plan. Both teams help to minimize the impact of planned water interruptions at hospitals and schools.

“The impact to a school or hospital is much greater than a single residence,” Cox says. “That’s why it’s ideal to have as much advanced planning time as possible to make sure that the business customers in question — especially sensitive institutions like hospitals and schools — are fully informed and prepared for a water interruption.”

Additionally, LADWP’s Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs group is responsible for communicating any significant projects to the local council district and/or mayor’s office. Those governmental entities can often help spread the word and alert business customers when a significant interruption is planned. 

Why a Water Utility Communication Plan is Important

A robust communication plan does more than inform — it builds and maintains trust with customers. Here are a few reasons why water utilities should develop a communication strategy for planned water interruptions: 

  • Minimizes disruption: By allowing customers to prepare, you can lessen the impact of the water interruption on their daily lives.
  • Maintains customer trust: Transparent and timely communication demonstrates that you value your customers and their experience.
  • Enhances reputation: Utilities that communicate effectively are often perceived as more reliable, trustworthy and customer-centric.  

While planned water interruptions can be an inconvenience for customers, they also provide utilities with an opportunity to improve trust and long-term customer satisfaction. By developing a comprehensive water utility communication plan and utilizing the right channels to share essential information, utilities can minimize inconvenience and build stronger customer relationships over time.

Learn how a turnkey engagement solution from Questline Digital can help your water utility communicate planned interruptions to customers.

Energy utility customers don’t want to be left in the dark during a power outage. When done well, outage communications can be a chance to further engage with customers and earn their trust. On the other hand, a lack of communication during an outage can cause ill will among customers and make it difficult to create a positive relationship down the line.

In our webinar, “How to Build Customer Trust with Outage Communications,” Questline Digital’s Nina Cummins, Senior Director of Key Accounts, and IntelePeer’s Jon Dunham, VP of Strategic Channels, shared insights into building an effective outage communications strategy. They explored best practices for communicating before, during and after power outages and explained why data integration is an important foundation for a successful strategy.

What Do Customers Expect During an Outage?

There are many challenges faced by energy utilities and their customers during service interruptions. To level-set the conversation and encourage webinar attendees to look at outages from a customer’s point of view, we asked them, “Which way do you prefer to get outage updates?”

An impressive 94% of poll respondents said they prefer to receive outage alerts via text — and only 3% prefer email. This is only further proof highlighting the need to understand customer preferences when earning their trust with outage communications.

While it’s unrealistic for customers to expect that outages will never occur, ongoing education and expectation-setting are crucial for an exceptional customer experience. Cummins shared that a staggering 71% of utilities acknowledge that they’re not doing enough to improve customer engagement. Utilities need to make a conscience effort to position themselves as trusted partners to customers by sharing information, collecting feedback and creating strong relationships.

Dunham explored the different perspectives of utilities and customers when facing outages.

From the utility’s standpoint, managing costs and investments while handling a spike in call volumes is a significant concern. On the other hand, customers primarily care about the restoration of service, the causes of the outage and potential safety threats to their families. Striking a balance between managing costs and delivering the best possible customer experience is essential.

“You have to think about the customer’s point of view,” Dunham said. “You need to look at, from a best-practice perspective, How do you reach those customers? How do you find that careful balance between managing your investment in technology and also managing customer satisfaction and how they interact with your company?”

Dunham also shared best practices for outage communications, emphasizing the importance of transparency, proactivity and clear messaging.

Five best practices that were shared include:

  1. Communicate proactively
  2. Remove jargon from messages
  3. Provide direct links and access to important resources
  4. Communicate the scope of the outage to customers
  5. Inform customers before, during and after outages

Before, During and After the Outage: Communicate at Every Stage

Effective communications are needed at all three stages: before, during and after power outages.

To ensure customers are well-prepared before an outage, utilities should provide outage resources (like an outage map), seasonal safety tips and options for customers to opt-in to alerts.

The top advice Cummins shared for this round of communications is to ensure your communications to customers are clear and to the point. Avoid jargon and complicated directions. Provide direct links.

During an outage, utilities must prioritize urgent and transparent communication with customers. A well-defined communication plan should be in place, utilizing various channels such as voice, SMS and digital platforms to ensure timely and accurate information is shared.

Customers should be informed about the impacted areas, the extent of the outage, the number of affected customers and the reason for the outage. It is essential to update them on power restoration efforts and provide confirmation that the issue is being resolved promptly.

After an outage, utilities should communicate details such as the cause, resolution, number of affected customers and even the number of line workers deployed. Reinforcing available outage resources and encouraging customers to sign up for text alerts while the experience is still fresh in their minds is also essential.

Post-outage surveys via SMS, email or outbound voice can provide valuable customer insights, helping utilities evaluate and improve their communication strategy. Real-time customer information associated with the outage journey, channels used and feedback on communication effectiveness are crucial to this evaluation process.

In this stage, utilities should send messages that include thanking customers for their patience, reminding them to sign up for outage alerts and providing safety tips and other resources. By addressing customers’ needs and concerns during and after an outage, utilities can foster a positive relationship and maintain customer confidence.

Integrate Data Into the Outage Communications Strategy

Regardless of where a utility company is in its technology journey, it can still innovate and create a better experience for customers without a major overhaul.

Call center agents use various communication platforms to respond to customers and integrating data from these platforms is crucial to creating a smart, unique experience for customers. For example, an SMS experience should be interactive, allowing customers to respond or even initiate a phone call to the call center directly from the text message.

Data integration can also help utilities monitor the effectiveness of their outage strategies and solutions. By analyzing data such as call spikes, SMS effectiveness and customer feedback, utilities can continually improve their services and maintain positive customer relationships.

Having access to the right data, fully integrated into the utility’s environment, and using insights and reporting tools are essential for continuous improvement and adapting to customers’ needs. This approach enables utilities to create better customer experiences.

Earn Customer Trust with a Successful Outage Communication Plan

Building trust with outage communications requires a successful strategy before, during and after service interruptions. Your utility needs to deliver timely, relevant information each step of the way.

Cummins and Dunham shared helpful tips during the webinar. In summary:

  1. Define realistic customer expectations about outages through ongoing education and communication.
  2. Focus your outage communication strategy all three stages: before, during and after an outage (also called the aware, action and affirm stages).
  3. Provide proactive communication and transparency in all channels, including email, text and social media.
  4. Share safety information, outage causes, estimated restoration times and status updates as quickly as you can.
  5. Thank customers for their patience and provide resources for any future outages.
  6. Gain customer insights through surveys to improve the outage communications strategy.
  7. Integrate data from various sources to provide tailored, interactive experiences for customers.
  8. When starting somewhere, begin your outage strategy with the “during” stage, since this is when customers are most concerned about their power.
  9. There’s no such thing as too much communication during an active outage situation.
  10. Balance communication across channels to avoid overcommunication before and after outages.

Research shows that overall satisfaction among customers who receive outage communications is much higher than among those who do not receive this information. By proactively building out an outage communications strategy, your utility will pave the way for increased customer satisfaction, earn their trust and build engagement in the long run.

Learn how an outage communications strategy from Questline Digital can help your utility build customer trust.

Power outages can occur at any time for any reason, whether due to severe weather, equipment failure or even animal obstruction. Your customers look to your utility for outage updates. That’s why proactive emergency communications are key.

In Questline Digital’s webinar, “Proactively Engage Customers with Emergency Communications,” Vonetta Burrell, Manager of Corporate Communications at Belize Electricity Limited (BEL), and John Bord, Manager of Customer Experience at Tucson Electric Power (TEP), share how to prepare customers before, during and after severe weather events with emergency communication strategies.

Different Customers, Different Emergency Communications Channels

Every customer is unique, as is the utility that serves them. For Belize Electricity Limited, Belize is considered both a Central American and Caribbean nation, with a population of over 400,000. BEL serves 170,000 customers of varying cultures. Burrell says, “This is important to know because what might work for one customer may not work for another.”

Burrell explains that in urban areas of Belize, they tend to like social media updates from the utility. In other areas, radio is the best form of communication because customers may not have consistent internet. For others, direct SMS communication is most effective.

“These are things we consider to ensure that we are reaching the right audience using channels that are preferred by them,” Burrell says.

BEL has a number of drivers that encourage proactive notifications, including their commitments to both regulators and customers. Additionally, they have set standards for the timeliness of the utility’s internal communications and customer notifications.

“We are required to make sure we are issuing notifications in a timely manner, whether these are planned or unplanned or emergency scenarios,” Burrell says. “As a company, we also have implemented our internal standards to make sure we are holding ourselves at an even higher level in terms of timeliness of communication.”

Typically, BEL strives to inform customers at least two business days ahead of planned outages and within 15 minutes of unplanned outages, events or emergencies. The utility primarily uses SMS for initial contact with customers, but they also share updates on the mobile app, website and even a Facebook group. This group allows customers to have two-way communications with the utility.

“It’s not always about what you want to tell your customers,” Burrell says. “They may have valuable information to share with you as well.”

Flow chart showing information flow for emergency communications plan

Engage with customers across channels

BEL considers its wide range of communication channels instrumental to engaging with customers. The utility utilizes a variety of platforms, including:

  • Social media
  • SMS
  • Mobile app
  • Direct calls
  • Website
  • Radio
  • Television
  • Newspaper
Example of emergency communications alert messages

Burrell encourages utilities to use social media as a two-way communication method.

“While you may be opening up yourself for more comments, more negativity, more criticism, it also helps you to understand your audience,” she says. “While it may seem like chatter or complaints, it’s actually helping to determine what do we need to address, what do we need to improve, what are the educational messages that we’re not doing enough of. Sometimes it gets sticky, sometimes it gets rough, but it’s better to have a response rather than leave comments unanswered.”

Apart from internal channels, Burrell stresses the importance of developing relationships with external stakeholders, such as the media or online influencers, well in advance of emergencies. She explained that people will listen to those they trust, which may not always be the utility itself. Having ambassadors share the utility’s message in a timely, accurate matter is imperative to connecting with customers.

Every Minute Counts for Effective Emergency Communications

For Tucson Electric Power, the utility knows the typical timing of its storm and outage seasons, making it possible for the utility to educate customers in advance. Bord says that their typical outages occur between June and September. June often sees extreme heat outages, while the other months see increased rain, lightning and wind outages.

Bord shared that TEP has learned from research that customers have three main outage questions:

  • What is the estimated time of restoration?
  • What is the cause?
  • Have work crews been dispatched?

According to TEP, following through with appropriate answers to these questions helps customers feel relieved and in-the-know. Additionally, TEP encourages sharing helpful information with customers, such as:

  • Number of customers impacted
  • Acknowledgment of lost power
  • What time the outage began
Example of emergency communications alert message from an energy utility

TEP uses its outage map to keep customers informed. Within the map, customers can click on various outage areas and immediately find out:

  • Start time
  • Status
  • Customers out of service
  • Customers restored
  • Cause
  • Estimated time of restoration
Example of emergency communications outage map

“We really want to keep our resources in front of the customers, remind them of the summer storm season and drive customers to the outage map to reduce calls to the contact center,” Bord says. Additionally, TEP deploys newsletters and sponsors local TV weather spots to share information.

Research shows customers only want one or two updates regarding the estimated time of restoration. “Satisfaction declines if you do three or four updates,” Bord says. “It creates uncertainty and stress.”

Example of reporting metrics showing performance of emergency communications strategy

TEP also attributes its emergency communication strategies to its customer journey mapping progress. “We conducted journey mapping to look at the current and future states of outages and residential versus business expectations,” Bord says. “Journey mapping really brought our cross-functional teams together to have more of an indication and wider lens of looking at an outage.”

This also led to producing more extensive pre-emergency planning and communications for customers. “If an outage were to happen, it’s almost like creating a strategic playbook,” Bord says. “Everybody knows what, when, where and how to address that situation.”

As TEP works to advance its pre-emergency planning, the utility is also working on more customer-friendly messaging. “Sometimes, putting some of our utility speak or terminology on an outage map doesn’t mean anything to the customer,” Bord explains. “Is there a better way to phrase an equipment failure and if it causes an outage, what’s the best way to communicate that?”

Positive Outcomes for Negative Events

Both Burrell and Bord emphasized that clear, consistent and proactive messaging is critical. “People have too many things on their mind in an emergency,” Burrell says. “You want to make sure that you are specific, clear, easy-to-understand and consistent.”

Even when outages arise, Burrell encourages humanizing the situation and reminding customers that real people are involved. This helps to not just share a blanketed response with customers, but to bring a human element as well.

“An outage is a negative event, but it’s also a great opportunity for a utility to shine,” Bord says, “to show our customers how great we perform when there’s an issue so that we can really move the needle on customer satisfaction.”

Questline Digital can help your energy utility prepare an effective emergency communications strategy.

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.