How Smart Mobile Communication can Help Utility Companies Serve Their Customers When They Need it Most

Everyone is a utilities customer. Most people only think about utilities in two scenarios: when they lose power or when they get their monthly bill in the mail. But whether they think about it or not, everyone is a utilities customer—and when everyone is your customer, customer service matters. Company administrators need to pay special attention to the way they’re operating on a daily basis, particularly taking care to ensure the best service for the many people they serve.

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By Stacey Epstein

Everyone is a utilities customer. Most people only think about utilities in two scenarios: when they lose power or when they get their monthly bill in the mail. But whether they think about it or not, everyone is a utilities customer—and when everyone is your customer, customer service matters. Company administrators need to pay special attention to the way they’re operating on a daily basis, particularly taking care to ensure the best service for the many people they serve.

Because customer service is the ultimate mission for utilities, any tool that can help them successfully reach that goal is of value. On a daily basis, the underlying key to success in the utility sector is good mobile communication—which enables the dissemination of critical information in real time, allows employees to communicate and solve problems, and ultimately results in the best service for customers in need.

The Importance of Mobile Communications in the Utilities Sector

In Houston and Florida, hurricanes Harvey and Irma have powerfully reinforced the importance of quick communication for utilities workers, who can be tasked with repairing major outages for hundreds of thousands when natural disasters strike and emergencies occur. When power goes down, utilities departments are on the ground and on the go, working to get power lines back in place and restore electricity for the people who need it.

When a worker is alone and on the job, it’s especially important for them to stay connected with their colleagues, not only for the fast exchange of urgent information, but to remain safe and aware of their surroundings and any timely alerts. Traditional company-wide communication methods, from phone trees to emails, aren’t capable of facilitating the necessary communications that utility organizations need. At the moment, in the time of crisis, it’s the ability to use messaging, push notifications, broadcast alerts, and push-to-talk walkie-talkie-like functionality that can connect people quickly and get results as soon as possible.

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For utility workers, the ability to properly do their job is directly tied to the latest information from the team and the broader community. To effectively serve customers in times of crisis, you need to make quick decisions and instantaneously execute on tasks—and your ability to communicate in real-time dictates these outcomes.

The Way We’re Communicating Doesn’t Cover all the Bases

At the moment, the majority of deskless field workers communicate through SMS or other consumer messaging apps that are unregulated by their organization’s administration—insecure and sometimes distracting. When emails, messages and calls come through multiple channels and different platforms, workers who need critical details can be bogged down with irrelevant conversations and unnecessary information.

Internal communications run like a four-way street within utility organizations: top-down from administrators and managers to their teams, and laterally between employees who are discussing their projects and exchanging information on the ground. When workers need to communicate, offering an easy to use mobile communication platform can make all the difference. Field workers can get in contact with one another at the time of an event with a full company-wide mobile directory––enabling access to people’s contact information without digging through email inboxes or asking around for phone numbers. Likewise, having pre-set, specialized groups can streamline the execution of tasks for teams on the go. Rather than sending company-wide alerts to those who don’t necessarily need to receive them, administrators and officials operating at headquarters can flag updates to the specific working teams to which they properly apply.

At the most basic level, it’s important that we’re creating mobile designs that facilitate good communication every day—and especially during crisis situations when they’re needed most. And when packaged in a familiar, comfortable interface, these mobile communication tools are actually embraced and used by teams—rather than sitting in a folder as another app on your smartphone.

When Workers are Able to Communicate Better, They’re Able to Work Better

Utilities workers operate in high-demand, rapid-response roles, and need to exchange important information in real-time at the moment it’s needed. Good communications in the field, among teams, within the company, and throughout an organization’s broader network directly translate into more efficient, productive, organized and engaged workers. The better utilities employees are able to connect and collaborate with one another, the better they’re able to serve their customers; and the better the service, the better the business results for the company. UP

About the author: Stacey Epstein is CEO of Zinc, an enterprise communication platform that connects deskless workforces with the people and knowledge that drive business results. She is an advocate for the advancement of women in the workplace and has extensive experience generating demand, fueling growth and building companies from startup to brand name, global technology organizations.

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