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Why Should You Use an Outage Communications System?

June 17, 2024

Digital transformation (DX) is revolutionizing operations across almost every industry, including utilities. While you can implement different solutions to improve operational efficiency in various departments, an outage communications system provides comprehensive benefits across the company.

What Is an Outage Communications System?

An outage communications system is a software solution that pulls data from your outage management system (OMS) to notify customers of power and utility outages and keep them informed as the situation progresses.

Essentially, it's a centralized communication solution that streamlines customer interactions across various channels, such as:

  • Text messages (SMS alerts)
  • Automated voice alerts (IVR)
  • Email alerts
  • Mobile app push notifications
  • Smart speakers

The specific features of each system will vary between each software provider, but any good solution will include basic communication and automation capabilities.

Common Features of Outage Communications Systems

At its core, an outage communications system will focus on improving communication between you, your customers, and stakeholders such as government agencies, emergency services, and regulators. However, some vendors also offer advanced features like:

  • Outage maps that display real-time outage updates within your service area
  • Self-service portals for direct communication between customers, stakeholders, and your company
  • Personalization capabilities that empower customers to set their communication preferences
  • Automated notifications that incorporate customer communication preferences and expand your reach
  • An integrated mobile app that allows customers to stay in the know while on the go

Some solutions can be part of a comprehensive utility management system that also includes bill payment software and customer service automation.

Why Is an Outage Communication System Important?

It's impossible to overstate the significance of proactive, efficient outage communications, as system outages can have devastating consequences for organizations and individuals alike, such as:

  • Disrupting emergency communications
  • Damaging critical IT equipment and data
  • Causing food to spoil
  • Interrupting key business operations
  • Shutting off life-saving medical equipment
  • Halting work on construction sites

Additionally, the longer a system is down, the higher the financial losses. High-risk industries like health care and manufacturing can lose millions of dollars each minute their operations are down.

A reliable outage communications system that immediately alerts your customers of outages and informs them of what your team is doing to restore service helps them more readily adapt to changing circumstances and take necessary precautions to minimize damage caused by an incoming storm.

Additionally, an outage communications system keeps your customers updated on what they can expect from your team. Customers want to know they can count on their utility provider to be honest when an outage occurs, so clear, consistent communications are essential for maintaining their trust.

What Are the Benefits of Outage Communication Systems?

A well-designed outage communication system streamlines the process of contacting customers, benefiting both your utility company and your customers.

Some examples of these benefits include:

  • Automated alerts: Automated notifications alert customers when an outage occurs, letting them know you're already on track to fixing it.
  • Consistent messaging: Customizable templates allow you to quickly craft and send appropriate messaging to customers while maintaining organizational consistency. Additionally, direct integration with your OMS ensures your messaging contains the most up-to-date information.
  • Customer trust: A system that enables you to keep all your customers informed of outage status using their preferred communication channels provides a more transparent flow of information, enhancing the customer experience and increasing their trust in your organization.
  • Progress tracking: Integrated features like an interactive storm center map pull data from your other systems to reflect what your company is doing to resolve the outage in near real time. Your customers can estimate when they can expect service to be restored.

Of course, choosing the right system is the key to unlocking the benefits you anticipate. Taking the time to investigate all your options and speak with sales reps and consultants can help you make the best choice for your company.

What Should You Look for in an Outage Communications System?

How do you know whether an outage communications system is the right fit for your organization? Consider the following points while you're evaluating different solutions:

  • Organizational alignment: Your outage communications system should offer features and capabilities that address your organization's unique needs. For example, if you plan to expand your operations in the future, look for a robust solution that can scale with you.
  • Various communication channels: Taking an omni-channel approach to outage communications significantly increases the likelihood of customers seeing and responding to your notifications.
  • Compatibility and integrations: Your outage communications system should seamlessly integrate with your existing technology infrastructure, especially your OMS. Conducting a technical assessment of your system's communication protocols, integration capabilities, and data formatting will help you determine whether a solution is compatible.
  • Two-way communication capabilities: Outage communications is a two-way street. Empowering customers to alert you of outages, request real-time updates, and receive estimates of how long the outage will last builds trust and loyalty between you and those you serve.
  • Training and support: What additional services does the software provider offer to help you maximize your return on investment? Comprehensive training reduces the time employees need to learn the system, while ongoing support minimizes downtime if you run into a problem.
  • Regular system updates: Look for a vendor that frequently updates their software. Regular updates include patches that can prevent data breaches and other cybersecurity incidents.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, you need to make sure your outage communications system fits into your organizational budget. Does it offer enough features to justify your investment? Do those features make sense for your company? Conducting a thorough cost-benefit analysis will help you ensure you're making the right choice.

Choose KUBRA for Proactive and Transparent Outage Communications

At KUBRA, we're dedicated to giving utilities like yours the tools they need to help their customers experience better. That's why we created a user-friendly, intelligent outage communications system that can scale to meet your company's unique needs.

Our communications solutions integrate seamlessly with each other and leading OMS solutions to unlock total visibility into outages so you and your customers will be on the same page. For example, our Storm Center maps give customers a clear view of outages in their area, providing near real-time updates so they know the extent of the situation and can monitor your team. 

Additionally, Notifi, a comprehensive preference management and automated omni-channel communication platform, automates message delivery, freeing up valuable time for customer service employees. Customers can adjust their communication preferences via the self-service portal to receive the specific updates they want, when they want, on the channels they use. Notifi seamlessly integrates with KUBRA IQ, a natural language processing solution that allows customers to use everyday language to complete various self-service tasks, including paying a bill, reporting a power outage, and understanding service usage.

Request Your Live KUBRA Demo Today

If you're ready to improve outage communications for both your organization and your customers, we're here to help you get started. See our system in action today by requesting a free demo.

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