What’s the first thing that comes to mind when the power goes out? Whoa, that’s not a nice word! Okay, what’s the second thing?

When the lights go out, the TV goes dark, and the air conditioner shuts down, consumers want their utility to know about it, and they want immediate answers to their questions about when the power will be back on. Leading utilities are implementing excellent systems that make outage reporting and viewing status updates convenient and easy for customers—so easy that they don’t even have to speak with a call center rep. These self-service platforms feature online tools, text notifications, and mobile apps, and they empower customers with control and information. But they have to be as effective as interacting with a real person.

We recently published a series of reports to help utilities understand their customers’ preferences when it comes to outage self-service channels, optimize the customer experience with a self-service platform, and effectively market these platforms. Each report applies to a different stage in the development and implementation of a successful outage self-service platform, but each stage is vital for creating a successful offering. Check out all three reports:

In the marketing report, we highlight how utilities are using social and digital media channels to communicate about their outage self-service offerings. Philly-based PECO, for example, doesn’t simply tell its customers they can now receive text message updates during outages. The utility goes a step further by situating its notification-by-text offering into a larger story about grid modernization. In one Facebook post, PECO mentioned that it can text you outage updates and explained that its work with microgrids could significantly reduce outages in the future.

Screen capture of a PECO Facebook post about outages

Giving customers the big picture can help them understand that your outage offering is part of your utility’s efforts to become more efficient and customer-focused. Be sure to read these three reports if you need to create a top-notch outage self-service platform and effectively market it so customers don’t feel left in the dark the next time the power goes out.

Comments

This strategy works well for the residential sector but what is e-source doing for large C&I where the cost of downtime is very high? These customers have two overarching needs; i.e., low cost energy and high reliability.

Thank you for your question! Our 2015 Large Business Gap and Priority Benchmark suggests that slightly more than two thirds of large C&I customers expect a call from their utility during an unplanned emergency or disruption​. It's important for account managers to be aware of this, and to pick up the phone when an outage occurs to provide the most up-to-date information and estimated times of restoration. Members of our Account Management Service can find the full details of this report and gain access to other research in this area.

Contributing Authors

Senior Manager, Marketing & Communications

Luke Currin, Senior Manager of the E Source Marketing & Communications Services, supports program managers, marketers, and communicators...