By Russ Henderson, Senior Research Manager –

While in recent years utilities have placed an emphasis on developing more targeted, personalized customer communication channels like text and email, outage maps have remained a fundamental part of utilities’ outage communications strategies.

Outage maps, which only a decade ago were a somewhat nascent, innovative technology used by relatively few utility companies, are now used by utilities more than any other channel for outage communications during both blue-sky and storm outages.

However ubiquitous they may be, customer awareness of outage maps remains relatively low – well below that of other utility offerings such as eBill. While about 98% of the 150 largest utilities in the U.S. and Canada have an outage map, less than half of utility customers are aware that their utility has an outage map.

Nevertheless, their popularity among customers who are aware of them has remained steady. And consumer data indicates that customers who are aware of their utility’s outage map are more satisfied than those who are unaware. Many utilities also find maps to be especially useful tools for communicating with media organizations about restoration efforts.

While the number of utilities offering outage maps has grown only slowly in recent years, more utilities have begun to offer estimated times of restoration (ETR) on their maps, indicating that utilities both recognize the importance of ETRs to customers (it is by far the most important piece of information customers want during an outage) and are growing more confident about sharing this kind of under-the-hood information publicly.

To learn more about outage map trends in the utility industry, download our latest report on the topic. If you aren’t a Chartwell member and are interested in becoming one, feel free to contact Tim Herrick at therrick@chartwellinc.com.