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April 27th, 2010

Social media has become an expectation for businesses, non-profits and government entities, rather than a choice. Conversations are taking place online, whether organizations are participating or not. Even though utilities are considered a low-interest category in the social media world, they are embracing this medium at an accelerated pace.

Omaha Public Power District (OPPD) realized the potential to communicate with customers and pundits alike. Social media can become a permanent record of their care and concern for the everyday users who do not regularly think about their source of electricity – until their power goes out. OPPD understands the online presence of utilities is naturally increased by significant power outages related to storms or other acts. OPPD needed to leverage this visibility to further engage interested individuals and organizations.

Bozell’s challenge was to help OPPD provide a controlled, yet transparent and flexible persona in the customer service social media environment, while communicating its commitment to its customers and the community. Two OPPD Twitter accounts were created – @OPPDCares and @OPPDStorm.

@OPPDCares serves as an additional customer service outlet for OPPD’s customers by providing proactive customer support, consistent updates of new products and services, and information on safety and energy efficiency. When other Twitter users post complaints or questions on OPPD service, @OPPDCares responds quickly by either answering his or her question on Twitter or, if the response deals with confidential information, by contacting the customer by phone. @OPPDStorm provides updates on significant storm-related power outages.

As a result of their efforts, hundreds of OPPD’s customers are now following OPPD on Twitter. OPPD’s presence on Twitter successfully launched OPPD into the social media space through consistent and valuable communication with its customers. Engaging with your audience is key, and through OPPD’s controlled, yet transparent and flexible persona, multiple conversations with customers were resolved.

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