Those in the greater New York and New Jersey areas know all too well how utility companies struggled to serve them in the weeks and months following recent natural disasters, even requiring back-up services from utilities all over the US to help. 

Most notably, there was Hurricane Sandy in 2012 where 8.5 million customers lost power along the East Coast, and tens of thousands of people remained without power for weeks following the event. There were also the customer service missteps following Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee, as well the great ice storm of 2008 where millions of people were forced to go weeks without power. 

Yet in the midst of chaos, many utility companies have charged forward on the innovation front, transforming their call centers into customer contact management centers. This type of center differs from a traditional call center due to the proactive approach that is used to create a unique, positive customer experience at every touch point. This is done through the use of a customer journey mapping tool—a tool that takes every interaction that a customer has with an organization and shows all of the emotional responses that are elicited along the way. Conversations with employees, face to-face interactions and satisfaction levels are all calibrated and charted. It is a visible way that companies can see exactly where they stand with each and every customer, so that there is no question when it comes to levels of satisfaction.

By establishing a strategy for dealing with customer issues in an organized, charted system, companies can statistically measure how well they are doing. This takes the guessing game out of issues such as documentation, billing, overall communication and staff friendliness. While widespread power outages are sometimes unavoidable following a catastrophe, companies can control how they look after those that rely on them for basic services. And a customer journey mapping tool is one of the most promising ways of going about it in order for utility companies to be more proactive and plan out a successful approach.