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Don’t Overload Your Utility’s Customers

image credit: Photo 38117492 © Kianlin |
Andy Gotlieb's picture
Editor of a specialty publication, former public relations practitioner, Freelancer

I hold 34 years of experience in communications, mostly in journalism, with a decade in public relations, too.  The first 17 years were spent in print journalism, where I covered, at various...

  • Member since 2016
  • 1,042 items added with 541,593 views
  • Mar 10, 2023

Who among us hasn’t bought something online from a retailer and, in exchange for a discount, agreed to receive promotional emails?

And who among us was soon annoyed by daily (or more) emails from said retailer? And who among us has quickly hit the “unsubscribe” button?

I bring up this topic because I received an email today from my utility with my weekly home energy report and was happy to learn that my “Combined Energy Usage was 11% less than your efficient neighbors.”

Two days earlier, the utility sent me my weekly energy report, which detailed how much electricity and gas I used the prior week compared to the week before, along with a projected monthly bill.

And sometime within the past week, I got an email notice about rate changes.

While I don’t mind the frequency of these emails, in part because of my posting on Energy Central, utilities need to be mindful of not sending out too much information. I’m wondering if some regular customers are finding the more frequent emailing bordering on obtrusive.

The lesson here is thus: Keep your number of communications to a minimum; if not, you risk having customers ignore you when important information needs to be imparted.

Since a utility won’t be hawking sales and promotions like a retail business, you must be cautious in how your present information. It doesn’t matter whether it’s through email, social media, bill inserts or whatever the latest technology is.

One exception: your utility’s website. It’s your space, so you’re free to post however often you want and with whatever you want. Customers who visit your website and doing so of their own volition, so you want to be barraging them with messages.

As always, there are exceptions to any rule. In times of crisis, such as a long-lasting power outage, communicate as often as is warranted with important new news.

In general, however, spread out your communications as much as you can. A bill insert or two a month is fine. Maybe one or two emails a week is OK, too. With social media, you can be more proactive, since customers can choose whether to view your content.

Finally, there may be some revised thinking going on in terms of communications. Some firms are scaling back. For example, my “day job” has trimmed one of its weekly emails, realizing it’s overkill. That’s a step in the right direction.


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Andy Gotlieb's picture
Thank Andy for the Post!
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