Customers expect ETR accuracy and timeliness

By Russ Henderson, Senior Research Manager –

During an outage of any size or duration, an estimated time of restoration (ETR) is by far the most important piece of information that customers want from their utility.

Understanding customer expectations regarding ETR accuracy and timeliness is of vital importance for any utility seeking to meet and exceed those expectations.

Chartwell has been researching outage communications in the utility industry for more than a decade. Our most recent report brings together consumer research and industry interviews to shed light on customer expectations regarding ETRs and the ways the industry is seeking to meet those expectations.

A few takeaways include:

  • ETR is king. An estimate of when power will be restored is more important to customers than other information a utility might provide to customers during a service interruption, including crew status and outage cause.
  • An ETR is a promise. Customers see the ETR they are given as a commitment and expect restoration to take place close to expiration. However, they are much more tolerant of an early restoration than a late one.
  • Your deadline is now. Customers expect an ETR quickly, but during major events they understand if the utility takes longer to send an estimate.
  • Standards vary widely. Most utilities now measure ETR accuracy, but the industry uses various standards for accuracy. Measurements used in an organization are often driven in part by the capability of its OMS to capture good ETR performance data. While utilities use different accuracy standards, each leverages its standards within the organization to improve the customer experience by driving desired employee behaviors as well as enabling regular system and process improvements.

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