Utilities recognized with Chartwell’s 2018 Best Practices Awards in Outage Communications

By Suzanne Haggerty, Research Manager –

Chartwell is thrilled to announce the winners of our 2018 Best Practices Awards in Outage Communications, which turned out to be two very close contests.

CenterPoint, Salt River Project and LG&E and KU were the leaders in the large utility category, while NIPSCO, Hydro Ottawa and Florida Public Utilities will be taking home the honors in the mid-size utility category.

Chartwell has been distributing the Best Practices in Outage Communications Awards at EMACS – The Customer Experience Conference, for several years, but this year we decided to recognize winners at our Outage Communications Conference, which gets bigger and better every year.

Gold Award winners will discuss their initiatives during the conference, set for June 6-7 in New Orleans.

All Outage Communications Award winners and finalists will be recognized during an awards luncheon on June 6. The conference features more than 15 sessions focused on outage-related topics, including communications tools, channels and technologies; outage prediction models; targeted communications; and dynamic outage communications.

For the first time, Chartwell segmented the Outage Communications Awards by utility size: utilities with more than 700,000 customers and utilities with fewer than 700,000 customers.

Chartwell will share information on the winning programs at the conference, and we’ll be publishing more detailed information on the efforts over the next several months.

Large Utilities

  • CenterPoint Energy will take home the Gold Outage Communications Award for its Hurricane Harvey outage restoration and communications efforts. CenterPoint delivered more than 10 million messages that helped customers prepare for the storm, get through their outages and rebuild after the storm. In a post-Harvey survey, 59% of respondents indicated that their opinion of CenterPoint had improved after the utility’s efforts during the crisis.
  • Salt River Project will receive the Silver Outage Communications Award for its Intelligent Outage Processing project, which allowed SRP to benefit from last gasp notification functionality by improving outage identification and restoration validation. The effort contributed to the reduction of outage calls coming into the Distribution Operations Center’s control room by almost 30%, reduced outage response time by approximately 12 minutes and assisted with increased customer satisfaction ratings in providing outage information.
  • LG&E and KU earned the Bronze Outage Communications Award for its transformation of the estimated time of restoration (ETR) process, improving efficiency and enabling a better customer service experience. Through the use of technology, data analytics and process changes, the initiative focused on promoting distribution operations awareness on the importance of ERT establishment and accuracy as well as cause identification. These efforts have improved ETR accuracy as well as Power Quality and Reliability CSAT scores.
    Mid-size Utilities

  • NIPSCO will receive the Gold Award in Outage Communications for its outage communications and customer experience improvement project, which redefined expectations, realized operational efficiencies and increased customer satisfaction. Specific initiatives included the institution of procedural changes, increased accountability for results, enhanced measurement/reporting tools, increased enrollment in outage alerts, and alignment with a newly revamped Electric Emergency Response Plan.
  • Hydro Ottawa earned the Silver Outage Communications Award for its successful efforts to improve the online customer experience during outages. The effort leveraged video on social media, introduced a mobile app and began preparations for the proliferation of virtual assistants such as the Amazon Echo. Hydro Ottawa saw an increase in its customer engagement and customer credibility and trust rankings after implementation of the video efforts and app.
  • Florida Public Utilities will take home the Bronze Outage Communications Award for its Hurricane Irma community engagement efforts. To tackle the communication challenges of the storm, including handling an unusually large volume of inquiries and engagements, the company’s dedicated Customer Care, Communications and Operations team members successfully managed and execute a social media strategy that ensured FPU customers were kept safe, informed and in touch with FPU representatives in their greatest times of need.
  • If you have any questions about the awards or the upcoming conference, please email Russ Henderson.

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