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Natural Disaster Communication

Utility provider - Case Study

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Customer Profile

Victor Joseph is a senior supervisor for a major utility company employing 18,000 staff and providing gas and electricity services to customers on the U.S. East Coast.

The call center that Joseph helps to manage has around 200 office-based customer service representatives (reps) and will soon include a remote team working out of home-offices. It handles all manner of account and billing queries. For Joseph and his fellow supervisors, the focus is on enabling the reps to deliver the best possible customer service, even in the most challenging of circumstances.

 

Internal Communications Situation

The organization had been using the SnapComms internal communications software since 2010 for a range of business messages from simple reminders — to complete a staff survey for example — and requests through to procedures for complying with regulatory requirements and major incidents pertaining to power delivery.

When Hurricane Sandy wreaked its havoc in October 2012, millions of homes and businesses on the Eastern Seaboard were without power. Company employees themselves had also been personally impacted by the devastating events.

 

Internal Communication during hurrican Sandy

Thousands of homes were destroyed by Hurricane Sandy



Joseph and his team quickly mobilized to respond to customers whose homes were destroyed or who had water in their gas lines or damage to meters and other hardware. It was vital that the reps had up-to-the minute information on which areas were most damaged. This is when the SnapComms communications channels were invaluable.

The business had already been using pop-up desktop alerts and scrolling newsfeeds to instantly communicate policy procedures and a range of other operational information.

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utility supplier internal communication

Pop-up desktop alerts are used to remind employees about standard procedures

 

These were quickly and simply deployed to communicate hurricane-related damage and updates to reps from field staff based on the ground. Management and their advisors were also able to use the tools to coach employees on how to approach particular groups of customers who were impacted by the devastation of the hurricane and who were experiencing distress and discomfort.

The reps were already familiar with receiving important information direct to their desktops, and liked the ability to get this without having to go and search for it. They are also able to personalize how they see such information on their screens.

 

civil emergency scrolling ticker alert

Scrolling newsfeeds are immediately visible

For Joseph and his peers, it’s all about message cut-through and the reassurance of knowing that they can get information out there straight away and not risk delayed responses from email, or mis-interpretation through word of mouth. There is also an unexpected bonus in that it reduces the amount of physical running around the supervisors have to do to relay information to the reps, and therefore reduces interruptions and distractions for the reps.

 

While call center staff were all very excited and receptive to this style of communicating initially there have been a minority for whom the link between those channels and important operational data has made them a little wary. Joseph has mitigated this through variety and making full use of the ability to create a range of different templates to suit the purpose and content of messages.

 

Joseph has used SnapComms to manage staff communications for a broad set of situations and he has not been afraid to try new things through using the software.


“I liked it the first time I saw it and as time progressed I learned a bit more about it.”

 

Going forward he envisages the software becoming “an invaluable tool” and instrumental in the organization’s strategic initiative to facilitate home-based working for reps.

“I am totally satisfied with SnapComms. I love it, love its features. I love the fact that it is always evolving.”

 

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