PECO’s legacy outage communications program was launched in October 2015 as part of its AGENT511 Preference Center deployment and offered customers a rich set of interactive communications for outage, billing, payment and energy savings. Previously, outages were derived by applying business logic to batch files transferred from the outage management system (OMS). Customer experience, as evidenced by JD Power rankings, continued to rise; however, in an effort to further enhance the customer journey, PECO sought to improve both the accuracy of communications as well as minimize latency in notifying customers of outages. Further, the company wished to offer an interactive method by which customers would be rapidly notified of a detected outage and could directly and instantly confirm the outage status to PECO.
In 2017, PECO integrated its AMI platform with its proactive outage notification process and updated its analytics infrastructure to improve and monitor accuracy by filtering outages according to meter status. A year later, PECO added AMI filtering to its two-way reporting process so as to avoid false positive reports and provide relevant, response messages. Finally, in early 2019, PECO’s Outage Management team and eChannels Customer Care team kicked off an innovative outage communications program that leveraged a modern, real-time interface, several new two-way messaging channels, and additional rules and filters. The program, called Real-time Outage Notifications (RON) sought reduce the time between outage events and customer receipt of messages as well as collect two-way interaction information form customers. PECO’s eChannel’s team reached out to its vendor, AGENT511, to assist with architecting the new interfaces.
Messaging templates and alert types were expanded across email, voice, SMS, and mobile app push notification and two-way interactivity was expanded beyond text to include email and voice. This program used text-to-speech (TTS) capabilities on Preference Center, along with dynamic two-way workflows to allow customers to confirm their outage status. Further, this new channel would allow eChannels leadership the ability to dynamically change IVR templates in the face of dynamic severe outage events. All of these features embraced PECO’s desire to become more transparent and intimately engaged with its customers.
Post-deployment, PECO surveyed customers who had received RON messages and were excited to report 88% satisfaction and nearly 3 in 4 customers avoided calling PECO to report an outage because nearly 98% of those who received a RON message were confident PECO was aware of their outage. Of those dissatisfied, the majority were unhappy about the underlying outage.
The program has sent over 500,000 RON messages since its launch in December 2019, likely mitigating hundreds of thousand outage reports while maintaining a high-level of satisfaction with PECO’s outage resolution efforts. This project paves the way for the development of new real-time interactive communications including outage surveys and ad hoc messaging. This program was successfully launched on-time and on-budget.