Transparency with Customers Sends Mixed Messages

Posted on February 7, 2011

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Interesting example of a company trying to be transparent. Our Texas energy provider Oncor, has faced a customer nightmare today with our freezing weather, brought an unwelcome surprise — power outages. In coordination with the Texas Power Grid, they had planned rolling outages across almost the whole state.

I completely get the purpose, and we’re trying to do our part…but the most common complaint has been how unexpected the outage was and if people had known it was coming they could have prepared and wouldn’t be so upset.

What’s interesting is, while Oncor has tried to have a canned corporate message, they also share a real-time map of who doesn’t have power. I think this is a great free service, and could offer both a positive and negative message at the same time.

I think that it hurt them more than helped when it was a negative story, but if it had been well marketed before hand, people would have been more accepting and trusting. This is a great marketing tool and without saying we are being transparent, they just are.

And in the world of data visualization, I think they could add one more data point — length of outage. So with another marker or size is more of a circle size, and color depicts length of outage to demonstrate their quick recoveries, when they happen.

http://oncor.com/community/outages/

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