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 Building customer awareness throughout Hurricane Irene

As five million homes in the US lost power due to Hurricane Irene, Baltimore Gas and Electric Company (BGE) found storytelling with visuals key to getting its customers up-to-date with the company’s restoration efforts.

“There were some customers who did not actually see any damage in their area but who were affected by power outages. Others did not appreciate why restoration was taking so long. Showing customers how the infrastructure was damaged and why their area was affected was essential,” said Diane Hughes, Director, Social Media & Web Engagement at BGE.

There are a number of ways to improve customer awareness and communication before, during and after an outage, according to Hughes, a speaker at the upcoming marcus evans 11th Annual Outage Response & Restoration Management Conference.

Ahead of the storm, more than 1.2 million BGE customers were sent a message to prepare for the storm in advance through a predictive dialer phone message. The company’s website was also a quick way to keep people well informed. The “storm center” page became the home page so customers could find all information needed in one place on the website.The page included contact information, press releases, links to the outage map and crew locations, videos and photos of damage and restoration efforts, and safety tips for before, during, and after the storm.

“Customers could check the locations of our crews. Utilities typically provide an outage map, but we found having an actual list of crew locations very helpful. We wanted to let customers know that even if they did not see trucks in their neighborhood, we were still working to power to their area.

Our blog also was a venue to provide daily updates, explain the restoration process and our infrastructure priorities, and give customers another way to connect with us.

We were managing our social media channels 24/7 as we worked to restore power to all areas. We had thousands of very personalized, one-to-one conversations during that time.”

BGE found storytelling with photos and videos the most effective way for connecting with customers.

“It was a long restoration process and customers relied on having as much communication and understanding as possible,” Hughes added.

The marcus evans 11th Annual Outage Response & Restoration Management Conference will take place at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis, Atlanta, Georgia, November 8-10, 2011.

For more information, please visit the Outage Response & Restoration Management website.

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