Rule #16: Interruption of Service – Tuesday CX Thoughts

Your Customer Agreements

A few weeks ago there was a power interruption in my area that lasted nearly ten hours. It messed with my workday, of course, while I was working from home, closed my son’s school (interrupting his scheduled ACT test), and resulted in quite a bit of food spoilage. The root cause of the problem was some power lines that fell in a remote area accessible only by helicopter when the poles supporting those lines had fallen into disrepair.  

A couple of weeks later, one of my neighbors asked me to review something for him. He had submitted a claim for loss with the electric company. About a week after the claim was submitted, He received a simple response that the claim will be denied based on “Paragraph 1 of Rule No. 16”. He was hoping I could find the reference. After a little research, I finally found documentation for Rule No. 16, and the likely exception they referenced stated:

The Company will not be liable for interruption or insufficiency of supply or any loss, cost, damage, or expense of any nature whatsoever, occasioned thereby if caused by accident, storm, fire, strikes, riots, war, or any cause not within the Company’s control through the exercise of reasonable diligence and care.

I suggested that he respond by stating that maintenance of infrastructure is within the control of the company. It took a few days, but they did get back to him stating they were actually referencing Paragraph 2 which says:

The Company, whenever it shall find it necessary for the purpose of making repairs, changes, or improvements to its system will have the right to suspend temporarily the delivery of electric energy, but in all such cases, as reasonable notice thereof as circumstances will permit, will be given to the customer, and the making of such repairs, changes or improvements will be prosecuted as rapidly as may be practicable, and if practicable, at such times as will cause the least inconvenience to the affected customers.

We started to see the target was moving and suggested he respond by asking when he was provided “reasonable notice”. The next response took longer but simply stated that he should refer to Paragraph 5 stating that they will not pay any claims in which all documentation isn’t received within thirty days of the interruption.  

Honestly, I had no idea how to address the next step – even as a customer experience advocate. 

“Taking Care of You is Our Top Priority”

This quote is actually displayed on this company’s website, though I’m sure my neighbor would disagree. It doesn’t take much time to figure out why utilities are rated so poorly by most benchmarking standards.  However, with few alternative options available to most consumers there is often the “talk” of improving the customer experience, but little reason for action. No doubt they conduct a customer experience survey and probably spend quite a bit of money on a CX enterprise software platform for a holistic voice of the customer program. They may even deploy a customer feedback loop process.  

This begs the question, why measure?  Even when the customer has no options, I can think of four reasons why they still continue to measure even if the customer has no chance to defect:

  1. Regulations require it 
  2. Someone has budgeted for it
  3. It feels good
  4. They really want to help

For each one of these, there would be a need for measurement of some type. However, for the first three, there would be no reason to invest heavily into a CX platform and a support team. With this, you can meet that minimum requirement and market the idea that “Taking care of you is our top priority”. You can probably end your day there.

It is the last one where companies can really demonstrate their stated goal that “Taking care of you is our top priority”. Even if the budgets are tight, QuestionPro can run a thoughtful approach using NPS+ to capture feedback, root cause, churn risk, and sentiment – all in one simple question type. This can be a great starting point for any customer experience program.

From there, we can add additional touch-point surveys and even more structured processes using QuestionPro CX workflow – getting the right survey to the right person at the right time. You can continue to grow your program so that every person in the company is aware of how the company is performing with their customers with unlimited dashboard users.  There are no limits if you are truly trying to prioritize the customer – if you are, you give them the chance to give feedback quickly, often, and on their terms. That should be the goal.  

As for me, I’m glad I have solar panels, but it looks like it is time to get a backup generator too. I don’t want to have a claim rejected for Rule No. 16.  

Register for our free CX webinar: Ratings vs Engagement: Building Real Loyalty. Join us live on April 27th at 11:00 AM as we speak with radio icons Scott Steele and Brady Hull about numbers, loyalty, and engagement – and how these lessons can help you build a more efficient customer experience strategy.

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