CPS Energy expands use of social media

Last Sunday, a man posing as a CPS Energy employee gained entrance into a house on the city’s West Side with the intent to assault the resident.

The San Antonio Police Department alerted CPS Energy, and we held a joint press conference with police Monday to remind customers they can verify an employee by asking to see ID and calling CPS Energy.

After the press conference, we posted the same information on Facebook and on Twitter. All day long, customers who follow CPS Energy on Twitter retweeted the information, sending our message out to a wider audience.

The week before, we alerted customers of two localized power outages on Facebook. Reaction was swift. Customers let CPS Energy know their power was out and where, and then let us know when it was restored.

Customer William Long wrote, “I called non-emergency about 20 minutes ago to let them know the traffic lights are out at Tammy/Blanco… but it seems you may already know that. Thanks for posting!”

After power was restored, Long wrote, “Great use of social media!”

“I like it that you have a Facebook page, CPS,” wrote another customer. “Thanks.”

Like many companies today, CPS Energy has expanded its presence on social media outlets like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube because those have become important ways to reach customers quickly.

“It’s no longer an option, we must participate,” said Kate Cooper, CPS Energy’s social media project manager. “We need to engage the customer where they are — and they’re on social media.”

In the past, Cooper said, customers would call, and later email CPS Energy when they had an issue or wanted to report a power outage. Today, she said, it’s more common, especially for younger customers, to send CPS Energy a message from their mobile devices to Facebook or Twitter.

CPS Energy, in turn, can keep customers updated during power outages, letting people know crews are on the way, or about how long they’ll have to wait until the power comes back on.

“People are appreciative of getting information,” Cooper said, “and knowing someone is there listening to their concerns.”

CPS Energy uses social media to remind customers about different ways to save money and how to be more energy efficient. It’s also a way to remind people, Cooper said, “that there are people behind the logo — we’re your neighbors.”

Learning the best and most efficient ways to use social media is still a work in progress for us. For example, right now, a social media team works to answer questions and keep customers engaged. The team is comprised of employees in CPS Energy’s corporate communications office, who have taken on social media duties in addition to their regular jobs.

In the future, the utility hopes to train the customer service team to use social media, as well as those who monitor power outages, so we can get information out as quickly as possible.

CPS Energy also recently launched its own blog, which can be accessed from the utility’s web page, and will be updated regularly with news and information. When a new blog entry is posted, we’ll let you know by tweeting it and posting it on Facebook.

There will always be a place for traditional media like television and newspapers to tell our story, and customers will always be able to call when they need to pay a bill or discuss an issue. But as our customers come to rely more and more on social media to stay on top of the news of the day, and to share their own lives, CPS Energy will be there.

You can read our blog, like our Facebook page, follow us on Twitter and check out our YouTube channel.

See you there!

Tracy Idell Hamilton

Tracy Idell Hamilton was part of the Corporate Communications team at CPS Energy.

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