Thought Leadership

Customer Paths Through a Utility Outage

September 19, 2022

Outages are inevitable but they don’t have to negatively impact customer satisfaction or brand perceptions. In fact, our new Outage Experience & Reliability report from Cogent Syndicated shows that an outage that is proactively communicated and resolved can build customer loyalty and lead to more engaged customer relationships.

For the 20% of customers who have experienced an outage, their satisfaction with their utility depends on what that outage experience looked like. Did they get information about the outage? Was that information easy to get? Was it accurate? The answer to each of these questions can take customers through many different paths of the outage journey.

To get a better idea of the paths that customers can follow and their impact on utility satisfaction, we leveraged Escalent’s path to purchase methodology. This solution balances the focus of consumer research to capture key behaviors and deploys our network modeling tools to show nonlinear paths. While an outage experience isn’t an apples-to-apples comparison of a purchase decision, it does have immediate impacts on satisfaction, trust and consideration of other products and services offered by utilities to their customers.

The Many Paths Through an Outage

While our research uncovered multiple journeys through an outage experience, we found that the typical customer who experiences an outage uses channels other than calling their utility or receiving proactive contact. This typical customer first understands the outage cause, then receives an estimated time of restoration (ERT), and finally receives post-restoration contact. Nevertheless, not every customer is the typical customer, and there are many journeys that differ from the one just described. The chart below shows these many different paths, including the direct path of the 12% of customers experiencing an outage, not seeking or receiving any information about the outage, and also not receiving any post-restoration contact.

A bubble chart showing the many paths a customer takes through a utility outage event

These paths give utilities a specific kind of insight: an actionable one. With this complex picture of how consumers travel through an outage experience, utilities can understand how to allocate their resources for the greatest impact and uncover the ideal customer outage journey.

For more information on the full Outage Experience & Reliability report or to see if there are other ways your utility can leverage our path to purchase solution and methodology, send us a note or click below.

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Suzanne Haggerty
Suzanne Haggerty
Director, Syndicated Research

Suzanne is a director of syndicated energy research for Cogent Syndicated. In this role, she translates consumer data analysis from the Utility Trusted Brand & Customer Engagement™ studies into actionable insights and recommendations for clients. Suzanne is an experienced researcher, writer and customer experience strategist who has been tracking trends and identifying best practices in the utility industry for nearly 10 years. Before joining Escalent, she was director of customer engagement and insights at Chartwell, where she led a team of analysts in the development and delivery of utility research to address pressing industry needs. Suzanne holds a master’s degree in English from the University of Alabama in Huntsville and a bachelor's degree in journalism and history from the University of Southern Mississippi.