Communicating with Customers During Crisis
Over these last few weeks, we have been talking to and listening to our energy and water clients, partners, and friends. You are literally the lifeblood of our society - you’ve got our lights on; computers, phones, and data centers running; food and medicine refrigerated; homes and water heated; and safe, potable water delivered. Without you there is no way we get through the pandemic. Many of you are adopting policies to suspend disconnects for nonpayment during the epidemic, which is critical for supporting self-quarantine to manage the spread of the virus. And most, if not all of you are posting your policies to protect your staff and facilities by shifting to virtual meetings and having all non-essential staff telework. These steps are a testament to your hard work and dedication, and Utilities, you can do even more to help your customers and communities. How? Here are a few ideas. Reassure your customers If you’ve recently visited any grocery store in your neighborhood, you know that your customers are panicking. They are envisioning a society that no longer works. Let them know that’s not true because you’re on the job.
Tell them about the steps you’re taking to keep electricity, gas and water working to keep them safe and healthy;
Tell them how to get in touch with you if they have any trouble (even if you think they already know);
Ask them for their ideas on how you could help the community, track the ideas, and even do a few of the better ideas to demonstrate your responsiveness;
And finally tell them to get in touch with you if they need help so you can redirect them as needed - your call centers may end up being a resource that gets your customers through this.
To reassure your customers in this way, consider the places that are still available in your communities where people can obtain or receive information. Additionally, many people are staying home and no longer going out to stores. Exploring other avenues of messaging could be helpful. For example, can utilities partner with a delivery entity (i.e. an Uber Eats, Favor, Instacart, Amazon, etc.) to distribute information beyond what can be conveyed in public settings or through online messaging?
Reinforce your connections to your customers Some of our partners and clients have told us that they expect participation in utility programs to dry up completely in the next month. But you’re going to have many of your customers at home, online, and looking for a change of pace. This is a great time to proactively and aggressively deploy your virtual programs.
Actively market your marketplaces – this is a time when home projects can be completed, and if your customers don’t want to go to the stores, then they can use your marketplaces for online delivery. Whether you offer rebates or just information, take advantage of your information systems and marketing platforms to get the word out now.
Engage them in their own Audit Adventures! Leaks? Yes, they’ll be around now to hear those. Mid-day sprinkler systems? Yeah, they’ll notice those. Whether these are simple or complex tools, you can get your homeowners to walk through their homes now and identify ways to save energy, water and money. At home with a restless kiddo? I wonder who can find the most burnt-out lightbulbs in twenty minutes ?
New baselines for behavior modification – this is a new cohort, the teleworker. Let’s see what messaging can do, what your new control group looks like, and what we can learn from this unusual circumstance.
Go digital for participation Finally, it’s really time to embrace the digital age for program participation. Connecting your outbound messaging with inbound applications and finally outbound incentive or rebate dollars, is how you understand what works and doesn’t work so well. And building a digital platform for the marketing, applications, business and approval processes, savings calculations, customer communications, incentive payments and reporting, is how you lower costs and improve your service levels. Contact an expert AIQUEOUS is here to help you - the electric, gas and water utility - amplify your social impact on your community. We have a digital platform - whether POWERPATH or WaterWays - built on the Salesforce CRM to assist you in:
Reassuring your customers
Reinforcing your connection to your customers
Go digital for participation
We are all in this together. Please use all of the above ideas however you see fit with whomever you already work or reach out to AIQUEOUS and we’ll get started with you.