Auto-enrollment for push alerts, chatbots and OMS integration are among top outage communications trends

By Russ Henderson, Research Manager –

Power outages are different.

Of all the interactions that utilities have with customers, arguably none are more affected by changes in grid technology and shifting customer expectations than communicating with customers when their electricity goes out – whether it’s a half-hour outage on a normal day or a three-day outage after a hurricane.

While effectively communicating about outages creates an ongoing challenge, utility leaders also face many new opportunities to improve customer satisfaction and gain operational savings by modernizing their companies’ outage communications capabilities.

Chartwell’s most recent report on outage communications draws upon Chartwell surveys and interviews to provide a high-level summary of major trends in outage communications and identify strategic opportunities.

Here are a few trends discussed in the report:

  • Auto-enrolling customers for outage push alerts presents a potential way for utilities to increase satisfaction. A small but growing number of utilities are now sending automated calls and text messages to all customers who have provided their contact information to the utility.
  • Many industries have begun to use chatbots enabled by artificial intelligence for customer service. A significant number of utilities are interested in developing chatbots for outage reporting. Chatbots can allow utilities to communicate with customers through a variety of channels on a large scale.
  • The expansion of utilities’ outage communications reach through push alerts, social media and other channels is placing more pressure on backend systems to provide reliable and accurate restoration and crew status data. Utilities are working with outage management system (OMS) vendors and field technology providers to develop systems that are more tailored to outage communications needs.

Members of Chartwell’s Premier service can download the report here. If you are interested in learning about membership in Chartwell’s Outage Communications Research Council please contact Tim Herrick, therrick@chartwellinc.com.

 

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