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SmartHub and automated phone system best ways to report an outage

Claiborne Electric offers a free SmartHub app and has added 48 new telephone lines to the Co-op’s automated phone system used to report electric outages directly to a dispatcher’s computer.

The Co-op provides SmartHub, a digital app, to members at no charge. SmartHub delivers accurate, timely account information. Claiborne Electric members can handle a variety of account management tasks right from the palm of their hands, including the ability to report an outage with the touch of a button.

“While we know that many of our members prefer to use a telephone system to report an outage, our suggestion is to use the free SmartHub app from a mobile device instead,” Brown said. “The app reports a member’s outage to the exact same Outage Management System, with the touch of a button inside the app.”

In addition to reporting an outage, members can use SmartHub to make a payment in a secure environment, check usage, contact our office, and more. These things can be done from a mobile phone, tablet, or computer, without any further contact to the office.

SmartHub puts the power of data in our members’ hands through convenient account management and detailed usage information. The two-way communication available with SmartHub also allows members to notify us of account and service issues while providing us a way to let members know about special offers, programs, events and more.

More information about SmartHub is available at www.smarthubapp.com. Apple users can download the app in the App Store, and Droid users can download the app in the Play Store. QR codes for both operating systems are printed here.

Brown said that if member prefer to report an outage by telephone, the best way to do that is to call 800-900-9406.

“Our members usually love the face that our office telephone lines are answered by live, local employees,” Brown said. “During outages, however, the telephone lines become our most frequent service complaint.”

Brown said that during widespread outages, the telephone lines manned by live employees fill up very quickly, and many members are subsequently left with a busy signal when dialing the local office numbers. He compared it to a radio station during a call-in prize giveaway.

“When a radio announcer gives away a prize on air and listeners begin calling in, very few callers get through. Most people only hear a busy signal, then they hang up and try again,” Brown said. “The same thing happens at our offices during an outage. If a substation loses power, we may have thousands of members calling in at the same time, and there are typically 10 or 15 employees answering those calls on available phone lines. Inevitably, most members hear a busy signal.”

Brown said that by calling the automated line during an outage, members can report their outages using the telephone number listed on the account, and the outage will immediately show up in the dispatcher’s Outage Management System. Brown said it is very important for members to make sure the Co-op has an updated phone number on their account.

“At the end of 2017, we added 48 new telephone lines to this system. The extra lines on the automated system will alleviate member frustration with busy signals to some degree, but we still need members to understand that if hundreds or thousands of members are calling at the same time, these 48 new automated lines still won’t be able to handle all calls at once,” Brown said. “That is why we have offered our members a free mobile app for a few years that can be used to report an outage with absolutely no wait, and no need to even call the office.”     

Brown said that the Co-op has invested a great deal of time and resources during the past ten years to revamp Claiborne Electric’s right-of-way program. He said the improvements to that program have increased reliability and decreased the number and length of outages for the Co-op’s members. 

“We have made enormous progress, and we will continue to maintain and improve our right-of-way schedule, but the reality is that we deliver our product to our members outdoors in the elements, and unfortunately outages will sometimes occur,” Brown said. “When an outage occurs, our members know that our line crews will be out to restore power as quickly and as safely as possible. In the meantime, the absolute best way to let us know you don’t have electricity is through SmartHub.”

Brown explained that the Co-op’s mission is the meet the needs of its members, and members have expressed a need for more telephone lines during an outage. Brown said the new lines will meet that need, but he feels like the Co-op went above and beyond meeting that need by providing members with SmartHub. The app actually eliminates the need to call the office during an outage, allowing members to report an outage easily and immediately, right from a smartphone or tablet.

“As soon as members finish reading this article, I hope they do two things if they haven’t already,” Brown said. “First, I hope they download our SmartHub app as their first resource during an outage. Second, I hope they write down 800-900-9406 or store it in the contact list in their phone as the Claiborne Electric outage number to use if they cannot use SmartHub.”

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