Feb 22, 2013
PPL Electric Utilities was one of three utilities that performed “particularly well” in a J.D. Power and Associates study of the responsiveness to and handling of Hurricane Sandy.
The study, released Thursday (2/21), was based on interviews with more than 5,900 U.S. residential customers in 31 utility territories impacted by the historic storm.
Sandy was the worst storm in PPL Electric Utilities’ history, affecting more than 523,000 of its 1.4 million customers. The utility assembled its largest ever storm response workforce, bringing in crews from 16 other states, including its Kentucky sister utilities, Kentucky Utilities and Louisville Gas and Electric.
“Being mentioned in the study as performing well is a feather in the cap of the army of workers, both in the field and in support roles, who prepared well in advance and then worked tirelessly to restore power for our customers,” said PPL Electric Utilities President Gregory Dudkin. “We learned from Hurricane Irene and other storms in 2011 and applied those lessons during Sandy.”
The utility made numerous storm-response adjustments, including expanding the capacity of its call center to handle customer calls. In early 2012, it unveiled PPL Alerts, a service that allows customers to get important information by phone, email or text message on power outages, their bill, monthly usage or the utility’s Price to Compare. The utility’s Outage Center also is mobile device friendly.
“Even though we received good marks in this study, we recognize that there continue to be opportunities for improvement and we are committed to making those improvements,” Dudkin said. “Our customers deserve no less."
The J.D. Power and Associates study noted that obtaining timely outage information is critical to utility customers. It also said satisfaction is highest among customers who say they received proactive outbound communications, in which their utility sent emails, text messages or outbound phone calls.
Before and during the storm, PPL Electric Utilities used those tools and social media to communicate with customers and share important information.
From Oct. 29 through Nov. 4, the utility recorded more than a million customer contacts via its website and interactive phone system or through conversations with customer service representatives. Company executives also conducted daily briefings for elected officials across the service territory to keep them updated on storm recovery.
PPL Electric Utilities conducted its own survey in the immediate wake of the storm, talking to 400 residential customers who had experienced a power outage of 30 minutes or longer. The results are being used to prioritize improvement opportunities.
“Customer feedback clearly shows that providing accurate restoration times is a key driver of customer satisfaction,” Dudkin said. “We are committed to improving our performance in this area.”
PPL Electric Utilities, a subsidiary of PPL Corporation (NYSE: PPL), provides electric delivery services to about 1.4 million customers in Pennsylvania and has consistently ranked among the best companies for customer service in the United States. More information is available at www.pplelectric.com.