During this challenging time, it’s critical for your energy utility to proactively communicate with customers to reassure them of your preparedness. On March 25, 2020, Questline President Dave Reim held a town hall forum to review best practices of responding to the coronavirus outbreak.
Using real-life examples from the energy industry, the panelists shared their suggestions for the messaging priorities that utilities should focus on in the weeks ahead. Among other advice, the panelists recommended:
- Be real. Be as transparent and authentic as possible in your communications with every audience.
- Be compassionate. This crisis is very personal for customers (as well as utility employees). Offer assurances that you will be there for them no matter what hardships we face in the coming weeks and months.
- Be consistent. Speak with the same voice, and share the same message, across all of your utility’s communications and marketing channels.
- Be focused. Put other marketing initiatives on hold. Customers have one thing on their mind right now, and they want to know that you share their concern.
Customers want to hear from you. This is a key moment to reinforce their trust in their energy utility. Questline’s performance metrics show that customers are opening emails and paying attention to their energy utility — despite the huge number of crisis messages that are currently flooding inboxes.
Magen Howard, communication and member services manager for Ohio’s Electric Cooperatives, may have said it best: “Authenticity during a personal and unprecedented crisis is key.”
Matt McDonald, external communications associate at Duquesne Light Company, added that proactive communication is important for “setting the tone” and “leading with heart and exuding confidence.” Through meaningful and authentic content, utilities can serve as partners to their customers in planning their own response to this unprecedented event.
Take this opportunity to reassure them that you will continue to provide safe and reliable power, you will work to protect the health of customers and your employees, and you will help ease the burden of financial challenges caused by this crisis.