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Hurricane Idalia: Surviving the Unpredictable with Outage Notifications

November 1, 2023

In late August 2023, Hurricane Idalia struck the Southwestern U.S., unleashing a trail of devastation in Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas. This severe weather event inflicted extensive damage upon countless residences, businesses, and vital infrastructure along its inland trajectory. Florida was the hardest hit due to the sheer force of the winds and flooding. The impact of this hurricane serves as a stark reminder of the immense power of nature and underscores the significance of being well-prepared in the face of such events. 

During this time, KUBRA worked closely with its utility partners in these states to inform their customers through its outage communications solutions, Storm Center™ and Notifi®. This article highlights key findings that underscore the critical role of delivering dependable, real-time outage information to customers during severe storms. These insights demonstrate that customers seek reassurance during major outage events through precise and up-to-the-minute outage reporting. Neglecting this vital aspect leaves customers in the dark, impacts their satisfaction, and causes unwarranted stress during already demanding times. 

Number of Outages and Customers Affected

Over 8 days, a little over 7,000 outages were reported through our partners’ external Storm Center maps. These disruptions impacted approximately 420,000 customers.

A Surge in Notification Opt-Ins:  Responding to Customer Preferences for Effective Alerts

During the storm, the surge in notification opt-ins was remarkable, with approximately 24,000 customers choosing to receive regular outage information through Notifi. Most customers strongly preferred text notifications, making it the top choice for staying updated on outages. Email followed closely as the second choice, with voice notifications rounding out the preferences.

Analyzing the Impact:  A Closer Look at the Number of Broadcasts and Messages Sent

KUBRA’s utility partners made a substantial impact by sending over 3.4 million broadcasts and messages to keep their customers informed about outage events. This remarkable figure illustrates how seriously our partners take proactive communication. With an average of 426,824 messages sent daily, the commitment to ensuring customers are well-informed and supported during service disruptions is evident. 

Navigating the Digital Surge:  Web Traffic Spikes and Distinguishing Returning from New Users

As the storm raged, there was a significant surge in web traffic, particularly on our partners’ Storm Center maps. On August 30, 2023, a large influx of users sought out their utility partners’ Storm Center maps for vital outage information. What’s intriguing is that 40% of these page views were from returning visitors, showcasing their trust in the maps’ reliability, while the remaining 60% were from new users, highlighting the maps’ appeal to an expanding audience. The returning visitors found value in accessing critical outage details such as the cause of the outage, the percentage of customers affected, the number of customers impacted, and estimated restoration times. This data underscores the maps’ role in delivering essential information during service disruptions. 

In terms of share of web traffic, 86% of users accessed their utility provider’s storm center map through their smartphones. 61.15% of these were iPhone users while 24.46% used Android. This was followed by Windows (10.01%) and Mac (4.20%). This highlights the importance of service providers optimizing their outage maps for mobile devices.

Unlocking Insights: Analyzing User Engagement 

User engagement on Storm Center maps was exceptionally high, reflecting the usefulness and relevance of the information provided. With an average engagement rate of 91%, our utility partners’ Storm Center maps surpassed the global B2C website engagement rate by an impressive 28%. In terms of average engagement time, users spend an average of 71 seconds on their utility provider’s maps. For some users, this figure peaked at 111 seconds, demonstrating their reliance on the information being provided. The substantial difference of up to 32% between Storm Center maps average engagement rate and the global average for B2C websites underscores the maps’ effectiveness in providing valuable outage information for those who were affected by Hurricane Idalia.

Mastering Customer Communication:  Our Commitment to Keeping You Informed

It’s crucial to keep customers well-informed about the availability of outage maps and the valuable information they provide. Conducting proactive campaigns to encourage customers to opt-in for outage alerts before and during a storm is an effective strategy for increasing enrollments. During such critical times, customers rely on you as their trusted source of information, and by guiding them to enroll for outage alerts, you offer a straightforward and effective means for them to stay updated during major weather events like Hurricane Idalia. While we can’t control the weather, we have full control over how we communicate outage information to valued customers. 

Helping You Keep Customers Informed Is What We Do

For over a decade, KUBRA has worked with some of the largest North American utilities in keeping their customers informed during outages.

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