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Understanding Customer Outage Communication Preferences

February 28, 2024

Power outages occur for numerous reasons, from high winds and lightning to hail and heavy rain. Whatever the cause, outage communications are essential to your utility's operations. Your customers need answers when an outage strikes. They'll want to know details like:

  • Current power status.
  • Expected restoration times.
  • Safety and security protocols.

How can you make these utility outages more manageable for your customers? How can you tailor outage notifications to their preferred channels for a more personalized experience? We have answers. Below are some best practices for creating an effective outage communications strategy.

Ways to Gauge Customer Outage Notification Preferences

Various methods can help you reach your customers more effectively during an outage, from gathering feedback to implementing multiple communication channels. Here are some tips to better connect with your customers and understand their wants and needs.

1. Survey Your Customers

Letting your customers choose their means of communication gives them a more customized experience. Consider distributing a survey where they can specify how they'd like to be notified when the power is out of commission. Here are some potential open- and close-ended survey questions to include:

  • What is your preferred channel for receiving outage notifications (e.g., emails, text alerts or mobile app notifications)?
  • Why do you prefer this channel?
  • Have you experienced a power outage with us before?
  • If you answered “yes” to the last question, how effectively did we communicate alerts and updates? Please select a rating of 1-5.
  • What did we do well in terms of communicating with our customers?
  • What could we have done differently?

2. Analyze Historical Data

Look at the outcomes from past outages. What went well? What could have gone more smoothly? For instance, your customers might appreciate a simpler way to report outages and downtime. In that case, you might integrate a more effective two-way communication system.

3. Offer Multiple Communication Channel Options

Your customers likely use different channels. That's why it helps to deliver details about the outage through a variety of mediums, including:

  • Text message (SMS)
  • Email
  • Social media
  • Your home page
  • Interactive voice response (IVR)
  • Mobile app push alerts.

That way, you can reach more of your audience and keep everyone in the loop. Letting customers use their preferred channels is beneficial when you need to relay critical information because it increases the likelihood that they will receive the notifications.

An outage management system lets you distribute data through text, email, social media, web, and mobile app anytime. Provide regular updates across these channels during this downtime. Notify customers whenever you receive new information from your support team.

4. Monitor and Adapt Your Outage Communication Strategy

Finally, remember that outage communication is an ongoing process. Regularly examine your strategy and update it as necessary. A comprehensive data analytics solution can combine your customer interactions with data from third parties. You can then use this data to make valuable business decisions and upgrade your outage communications.

Other Tips for Optimizing Outage Communications

We've explored tips to determine your customers' preferred outage communication channels. How else can you give them a positive, simplified experience? Here are some other essential tips to bear in mind when it comes to outage and incident messaging.

1. Keep It Concise

Keep your notifications as short and sweet as possible. Get right to the point so customers don't have to skim through long-winded messages. Additionally, avoid overly technical and confusing language, jargon, and acronyms.

Speak in a clear, concise tone that your audience can understand easily. That way, you can avoid potential misunderstandings and miscommunication. Outages already cause enough frustration. The last thing you want is to add to it!

A detailed template and preplanned message can help you condense your messaging to include the most relevant details. Prepare these messages ahead of time. That way, when an interruption occurs, you'll be ready. Time is of the essence during an outage. You don't want to waste valuable minutes finding the right words.

2. Be Specific

While it's important to keep your messages succinct, you also want to include all pertinent information, including:

  • The cause of the outage.
  • The number of customers impacted.
  • Crew status.
  • The outage's severity and impact.
  • Expected restoration time.

3. Show Empathy

Put yourself in your customers' shoes when crafting your notification messaging. Empathize with their frustration during the outage. It will go a long way. Be genuinely apologetic in your messaging. Here's an example:

“We're very sorry for any inconvenience this outage caused you. Our support team is working to resolve the issue, and we will let you know as soon as the power is back and running again. We appreciate your patience and understanding during this time.”

4. Be Proactive and Consistent

Don't wait to inform your stakeholders and customers about a system outage. Notify all personnel as soon as it occurs. Provide consistent updates until the incident is resolved.

An alert tracking system can help you stay on top of communications. It can notify recipients instantly and generate templates for each type of response. You can deliver the appropriate message to the intended audience at the right time. That way, you can stay proactive and consistent with your outage notifications.

5. Follow Up After the Incident

Assess the outage from all angles, not just while it's happening. By following up with your customers after the incident, you can pinpoint strengths and improvement areas. You might distribute surveys and collect customer feedback. Their insights can help you incorporate meaningful changes in your communication strategy.

You can ask questions like:

  • On a scale of 1-5 (5 being the best), how would you rate the resolution of this power outage?
  • Do you feel we effectively communicated all important details and updates throughout the outage? If not, please explain why below.
  • Is there anything else we could have done differently to make your experience more positive? If so, please specify below.

Give Your Customers More Personalized Outage Communications With KUBRA

At KUBRA, we strive to help businesses communicate and engage more effectively with their customers. With our outage communications solutions, you can quickly update your customers and share real-time details about the storm. That way, they can make the most informed decisions possible. Our available features include:

  • Outage mapping: Your customers can access details about power outages in their locations. Our platform also makes it easy for them to report incidents and downtime associated with their accounts.
  • Reporting and updates: KUBRA Notifi lets you update your customers throughout outages. Customers can also alert you when their power is down and request updates about their resolution status. The data you send is pulled directly from your outage management system. Therefore, you can have peace of mind knowing your customers are getting the most up-to-date information.
  • Incident mapping and reporting: With our IncidentWatch™ feature, customers can report issues with streetlights, utility poles and other features. They can also monitor any infrastructure improvements underway, such as tree trimmings and underground line maintenance.

Whether it's planned maintenance or an emergency outage from a severe storm, knowing about your customers' communication preferences is critical. With KUBRA, customers can be less reliant on your call center, better informed about outages, and more satisfied with their experience overall. To learn more about our outage and incident mapping solutionscontact our team or request a demo today!

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