Outages have the power to make or break the energy utility customer experience.
With severe weather season around the corner, energy utilities must prepare with proactive outage communications. What’s your outage action plan?
In recent years, extreme weather has become a rising trend across the U.S. According to the National Centers for Environmental Information, the U.S. averaged 12 weather disasters per year in the past five years. In comparison, between 1980 and 2013, that number was half of what it is today.1
This trend can be seen in the growing number of outage alerts among our energy utility clients. In 2018, Questline’s outage email sends increased by more than 230 percent from the previous year. We sent over 60 million outage alerts to residential and business customers. As storm intensity continues to grow, outage communications will become even more essential for energy utilities.
Take our short quiz and find out how your outage communications measure up.
1. Your energy utility has an omni-channel outage preparation campaign to encourage customer registrations for email and text alerts.
2. Your energy utility sends out proactive outage communications before summer and winter storm season.
3. Your customers receive ongoing outage updates across multiple channels (mobile-friendly email, texts and social media) until power is restored.
4. Your outage communications feature easy-to-read, engaging content like checklists, infographics and video.
5. An after-hours alert service is available to respond to customer concerns during storm season and outages.
Outage action plan: Before the storm
While you can’t stop severe weather, you can help your customers prepare for it. In fact, a recent J.D. Power survey finds 82 percent of energy utility customers prefer proactive outage communications. A successful outage strategy starts with communications before a storm hits, like seasonal safety tips and an introduction to your energy utility’s outage resources.
- Outage alerts: Encourage your customers to sign up for outage alerts with a proactive, omni-channel preparation campaign.
- Outage resources: Educate customers about your energy utility’s online resources, directing them to a comprehensive Outage Center or outage resource page.
- Seasonal safety tips: Share summer and winter storm safety tips, as well as how to prepare for a power outage.
Whether storm prep or outage resources, there is no one-size-fits-all for proactive outage communications. Questline client PSEG Long Island sends out storm alerts when there is a possibility of an outage. Con Edison deploys a storm preparedness series in advance of storm season to prepare customers with valuable outage tips and resources.
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 emails, text alerts and social media. For emails, a mobile-friendly, responsive design is best to reach customers. According to our data, over 64 percent of residential customers are engaging with outage emails on a mobile device.
To build trust, outage updates should inform customers that:
- Storms are imminent
- Outages have impacted the area
- Power restoration efforts are underway
- Power restoration progress has been made
- Power has been restored
Outage communications are essential to level set customer expectations. Energy utilities can educate customers on the important steps involved in restoration, from accessing the damage to addressing emergency situations. This gives customers a better understanding of what it takes to restore power.
Outage alerts should give customers easy access to your energy utility’s online outage resources. For example, Consumers Energy outage alerts drive customers to the utility’s extensive outage center, which tracks outages down to the minute. After an outage, the energy utility sends an email with helpful tips and resources to prepare customers for future outages.
The right outage action plan can help your customers find peace of mind when the power goes out – and help your energy utility achieve long-term customer satisfaction.
Is your outage strategy on point?
Refresh your outage communications with Questline’s innovative outage solutions. From custom campaigns to ready-to-send templated packages, we make customer engagement easy.