Nov 9, 2022

Extreme weather events are on the rise. What can energy and utilities do?

Energy and utility companies must ensure the safety of their customers. Whether there is a downed power line or a gas leak, they must always be available to assist customers – especially during extreme weather, which puts critical infrastructure at risk and disrupts service to contact centers.

From increasingly intense heat waves and droughts to more frequent and intense storms and wildfires, scientists believe the increase in extreme weather events is due to human-induced climate change. Energy and utility companies must adapt swiftly. (EPA, 2022)

The importance of elasticity

The key to maintaining a functional contact center during harsh weather conditions is elasticity. Unfortunately, many public utility companies lack this level of adaptability. For example, if an energy company experiences an outage, its concerned customers will flood the company’s customer service line. But, without intelligent call queuing, the company must manually reroute calls to its other outsourced contact centers.

The result of an inefficient and inelastic contact center is busy signals and unanswered calls, which can be problematic if customers need help quickly. Ideally, energy and utility companies need a flexible solution that can absorb a sudden spike in calls due to an outage in a way that prioritizes the safety of its customers.

Upgrading legacy infrastructure and meeting evolving customer needs

Additionally, utilities must upgrade their systems, whether that means moving to the cloud or going with a hybrid model that layers cloud features over the top of legacy communications infrastructure. Today’s next-generation and digitally native consumers have high expectations from all companies – including energy suppliers. They expect convenient billing, integration with other platforms, and modern communication experiences. (Capita, 2021)

A utility’s traditional method of having legacy voice communications at the forefront of its contact center is no longer sufficient. And it’s not just customers demanding change. Government regulators, like the Public Service Commission, expect utilities to prove they can handle emergencies and communicate swiftly. A quality communication solutions vendor can help run tests to provide proof.

What are ideal communication solutions for utility companies

Energy companies need a flexible and scalable communication platform with automation capabilities like cloud queuing, percentage-based call routing, and automatic failover. These tools help ensure customers get their calls answered even during extreme weather emergencies.

While customer safety comes first, consistent and professional experience is also important. A phone system that can reliably, intelligently, and automatically route and redirect calls to the right place on the front and back end will enhance overall communication efficiency. This kind of service vastly improves the customer experience. Plus, other API communication features such as virtual agents and chatbots, can minimize agent stress and answer FAQs by sifting through the usual requests like bill payments and address changes.

In an industry where government regulations require proven testing, it’s vital to have a partner who can help conduct seasonal readiness tests. Identifying phone system issues in advance and improving the flow – rather than discovering problems during a natural disaster – is incredibly valuable.

Check out IntelePeer’s tried and tested call routing and Insights solutions

With IntelePeer’s solutions, utility and energy companies can implement communications workflow automation to scale and modernize their legacy voice system for improved elasticity. Read our case study to see how IntelePeer’s unique solutions helped a large, North American utility company.

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