Power outages remain the most common complaint call that the Turlock Irrigation District receives in a year. Most outages are due to external forces, such as weather or downed lines due to car accidents. Despite the cause, TID customers just want to know one thing: when will I get my power back?
In an effort to better communicate with its customers, TID launched a new outage information website. The site officially launched on Dec. 26, 2012, and according to TID Public Information Specialist Herb Smart, the District has already received positive comments about the system.
“Having outage information online for customers was something that had been discussed at the District for some time. We always thought it was a good idea; we just had to figure out the best way to go about accomplishing the task. The District is happy to be able to provide this service to customers going forward,” said Smart.
Though most TID customers are pleased with the District’s response and efficiency in the event of a outage, Smart’s analysis found that TID lacked common bridges of communication in technology compared to larger companies such as Sacramento’s Municipal Utility District and the Pacific Gas & Electric Company. In order to align themselves with industry leaders, TID now offers instantaneous online information for its customers, permitting a communicative source without taking time away from the workers' progress.
When a power outage occurs, power control center operators are expected to complete a form through TID’s database. Once completed, the power outages page is updated for staff review in an automated, easy to read format.
“In the age of smart phones and mobile web access, we think the outages page will be a great help to customers experiencing outages who want to know when their power is expected to be restored and what may have caused an outage,” said Smart.
The outage website — found at http://tid.org/power/outages — will also provide basic answers to frequently asked questions and offer tips and suggestions to help the customer receive power. TID will also continue using its phone service as well to ensure that customers receive the best support.
“It’s important to note we are still happy to inform customers of outage information via phone, and the only way to report power outages to us is by calling 883-8301. Using our website to communicate outage information is meant to supplement traditional phone communication with customers in the event of an outage, not to replace it,” said Smart.
The project increases operational efficiencies, which ultimately benefits customer. All information is updated, accurate, and mobile friendly that can be reached anytime of the day. In the future, TID expects to include text message alerts, e-mail reporting, and a reverse call-out system to bridge a better response to its customers.
“This is not the final step, but the next step for TID outage communication,” Smart said.