The use of social media by businesses and organizations is mostly a communication tool. Marketing departments and contact centres use it to provide updates and answer enquiries from customers. However, there are sectors that can benefit of the information shared in the social media platforms to take decisions in critical moments. The use of social media to manage utility outages can be performed as an early detection technique and as an information tool to evaluate and assess the personal damage in the affected area.
3 ways to use social media to manage utility outages
1. Social Media as a promotional tool for the utility industry
Social media platforms have become a cost-effective channel for the utility industry to communicate with their clients and potential customers. From promotional messages to service updates, the utility industry now can create, post and share messages to a large number of customers at once without depending on any middleman responsiveness or their agenda (e.g. news relevancy, paid advertisement). Social media especially Facebook allows you to build communities around your business page and share messages with them. Utility companies can use this power to provide timely updates of outages and create a sense of control. WNS has created a Social Media Manual for the Utility Industry which includes Guidelines and Best Practice advice.
Social Media as a customer service tool for utilities
A social media contact centre team can respond to customers who are contacting the utility through Twitter, Facebook and other social networks. This includes all types of inquiries including outages. A couple of successful histories can be found in the Social Sprout blog post.
In our experience, it is key to align your marketing and contact centre team. This can be achieved by establishing information flows, defining the brand online tone and personality, and developing a close relationship between both departments. A successful collaboration will help your business when resources are most needed (e.g. crisis hits or reputation management requirements).
Social Media as an information tool
Data Mining can be a path to better understand customers. Social media can become part of day-to-day operations and customer interactions. Social Media agents can watch conversations on real-time and answer questions that have been directed to the community. Customers often take to social media when other channels (e.g. phone, e-mail, live chat) haven’t solved their problem or they are not available (e.g. long waiting times). Social Media Listening strategies developed in conjunction with metrics can improve the understanding of issues that haven’t been officially reported through other channels (e.g. photos of downed power lines). Through data mining, key terms can be monitored and feedback provided to the operational team. For example, it can help to spread the word about critical infrastructure damage including areas outside the utility provider capacity (e.g. road closures, trees fallen…).
Do you want to learn more?
If you are looking for a 24 by 7 team with experience in Social Media Customer Support, talk to us. Our team has been providing customer support through social media for the last 4 years and working with utility providers since 2010. Request a meeting here.