I understand it's been a very busy weekend for your company and its contractors. But something happened that bothers me, and it should bother you as well, because it affects the reputation of your company.
Our neighborhood has an active group of neighborhood watchers, and we tend to keep each other updated via e-mail and such.. As the outages in our neighborhood stretched past a day, and it got colder and colder, we started comparing notes.
And then I began hearing from people that when they came across an Oncor repairman out and about, they inquired about a possible ETA on our neighborhoods. Please understand - these people are educated folks who read the newspaper and keep up to date. They knew that there was upwards of 200,000 without power. They knew there would be a wait. They simply wanted an idea of how long that wait would be.
They were told, by either one of your crew or a contractor, that our neighborhood was "not important," and if we were lucky, we "might" get power by Sunday evening.
I find this unconscionable. It's cold. People are feeling powerless. All they want is some kind of personal assurance that you do indeed know we are without power. To add to the issue, in several areas, you could see that across the street, they had power. You could go two blocks over, and it would be dark, but go past a four way stop, and there would be power. There is seemingly no rhyme or reason to how neighborhoods are brought back up.
And then there is the automated system to report outages. It's frustrating, after 24 hours in a cold house, to call and get the exact same confirmation number and feel that you're no closer to a warm house than you were when you woke up Friday with no power.
You would normally pay a consultant thousands for what I'm about to lay out for you for free:
1. The automated system is good for the first call. For one, you couldn't afford to hire enough people to hire the calls for 200,000 outages. It would be a waste of manpower. But that confirmation number should MEAN something.
2. After a 24 hour period, a caller should be able to escalate the call when they put in their confirmation number. Right now, you get the same one every time you call, leaving you to feel this number is as useful as, pardon the somewhat salty phrase, tits on a boar. At call number two, the customer should be able to enter their confirmation number and an option for an ETA or to talk to a live person.
3. After 36 hours, that confirmation number should get you to a live person. No matter what. You have people with small children. Elderly people on fixed incomes. Chronically ill who can't be in the cold. These people need to talk to a live human being.
But most of all, you need to teach your repairmen to be polite, and respectful. They should say, "I'm sorry, but I just go where I'm dispatched. I wish I could help you." People won't like it, but it's so much better than "not important."
I know you're the only game in town. But even the only game in town should be able to find some way of better dealing with the public. This is not it.