Communicate Clearly and Often
When the power is out, people want to know why it is out, and when it will be back on. The more you communicate during the outage the easier you can manage the expectations of your customers. Great customer service requires listening, acknowledging, and then addressing the need. Let customers know that YOU know their power is out, and that you’re doing everything in your power to get the lights back on.
If you can do so safely, show the power restoration out in the field from a mobile phone. But be sure your crews are following all safety procedures and wearing proper PPE! Photos and videos of the damaged equipment and the line crews working to get power restored will go a long way in making your customers understand the hard work involved — and it may just garner patience from them while the restoration is underway.
Use the following real-life scenario from Huntersville, North Carolina, to get ideas for how to communicate during your next outage. And use our downloadable resources below to get building blocks for your own storm and outage communication toolkits.
Huntersville Real-world Scenario
The Situation: On May 29, 2020, a tree fell across Hwy 21 in Huntersville, causing an outage to approximately 1,200 customers. ElectriCities employees in Huntersville and the Huntersville Police Department quickly responded to the outage. The police worked to reroute traffic to allow the lineworkers to safely remove the tree and restore power.
Capturing the Damage: Through photos posted online the ElectriCities employees that responded to the outage captured the issue and showed the damage via social channels.
Showing the Work: As they completed the work, they were able to post status reports to their social channels.
Frequent Communication: Throughout the outage, the Huntersville office of ElectriCities was tweeting that they were aware of the outage and providing estimated restoration times. They also retweeted the Police department communications about the situation, advising folks of the road closure, and offering alternate routes. Throughout the outage, customers were thanked for their patience, and comments were quickly addressed.
Share for Greater Reach: The ElectriCities corporate communications team was made aware of the outage and Huntersville’s social media posts, allowing corporate communications to share updates to their channels as well.
Final Outcome: Power was ultimately restored to customers in about four hours, which was within the timeframe estimated and communicated out by the Huntersville Electric department.
HERE’S A TIP: When estimating restoration times, it is best to predict longer restoration times and restore it faster, than to underestimate and take longer.