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4 benefits of proactive utility maintenance

When it comes to infrastructure — both new and old — proactive maintenance (rather than reactive) can save time, money, and frustration for you and your customers.

Man using phone to book his own appointment for utility maintenance

A significant portion of the UK’s infrastructure is well over 100 years old. Time has taken its toll on buildings, equipment, and utility systems, and when something breaks, it causes disruption and inconvenience for everyone.

When it comes to infrastructure — both new and old — proactive maintenance (rather than reactive) can save time, money, and frustration for you and your customers. In this post, we’ll go over some of the benefits of proactive utility maintenance, and how you can implement it. 

 

Reactive vs. proactive maintenance

Reactive maintenance means that steps for correction are only taken after a system fails or something breaks. Especially with critical utilities, system failures can be an emergency, so taking a reactive approach is high risk.

Proactive or preventative maintenance is action that’s taken before a system fails. As part of a proactive maintenance strategy, periodic checks and tests are completed. This allows for the identification of outdated, defective, or worn-down parts; damaged equipment; and small issues which may become larger over time.

At first glance, the “only pay for what you need” approach of reactive maintenance may appear more cost-effective. However, it’s generally more expensive in the long run, because it often results in unexpected downtime, urgent repair work, and unhappy customers. 

 

4 benefits of proactive maintenance

Proactive maintenance may require a mindset shift, but its benefits can have an outsized impact. Here are the key benefits to consider: 

 

  1. Less unscheduled downtime

It’s impossible to predict exactly when a system will fail — especially if you rarely check it. With reactive maintenance, unexpected repair jobs result in unscheduled downtime, frustrating customers and putting tremendous stress on technicians and managers. 

Part of a good proactive maintenance strategy is utilising scheduled downtime to perform routine checks. That way, if an issue is found, maintenance can be scheduled in advance, and customers can plan for scheduled downtime accordingly.

 

  1. Cost savings

Proactive maintenance is around 10x more affordable than reactive maintenance for a few reasons:

  • Preventive maintenance is less likely to require support from expensive, highly skilled contractors.
  • With recurring service, parts may last longer, reducing replacement costs.
  • Work can be spread out over time, reducing overtime costs.
  • Frequent system checks can catch small problems before they become larger, more expensive problems.

  1. Better documentation

Performing and documenting routine checks and maintenance on your systems gives you more insight into when things break, why they break, and how best to fix them. 

With more data points available, you can better predict and plan for future maintenance needs. Additionally, the more documentation you have, the easier it is to manage back-office operations like compliance, training, and staff transitions.

 

  1. Better customer relationships

Waiting for a catastrophic system failure to occur is not a good way to show customers that you care. 

As mentioned above, the downtime that often results from unexpected maintenance can cause a lot of frustration for customers. Proactive maintenance can help you prevent this unscheduled downtime, build trust, and give customers peace of mind.

 

Keep customers in the loop on the day of service. Download the free Utilities Customer Communication Checklist.

 

How can you incorporate more proactive maintenance?

The benefits of proactive maintenance are clear, but how can utility companies prioritise it? Here are a few ways you can incorporate more preventative maintenance into your processes:

  • Schedule downtime for maintenance in advance. Use a customer engagement platform to automatically send notifications to customers in the affected areas to allow them to make preparations for the outage.

  • Give customers control over their appointments. When you need to perform preventative maintenance on an individual customer’s property, give them the freedom to choose their appointment date and time, view all appointment details, and reschedule if necessary. This prevents missed appointments and no-access appointments. 

  • Enable two-way communication between customers and technicians. If you offer opportunities for customers to add updated information to maintenance appointments and communicate with their technician on the day of service, everyone can be better prepared — and that translates to better first-time fix rates.
  • Focus on early detection. Set up equipment to automatically detect and notify you of changes that could impact system performance (e.g. water pressure monitoring, gas leak detection, equipment abnormality detection, voltage/current detection). This can help you alert your staff to potential issues before they become full-on emergencies.

Localz can help

When it comes to shifting from reactive processes to proactive processes, one common blocker for utility companies is technology. What sort of tech stack needs to be in place? Is it necessary to purchase preventative maintenance software? 

If you want to increase your focus on proactive maintenance without rebuilding your tech stack, we can help. 

Creating a white-label customer portal with Localz is a great way to send appointment reminders for proactive maintenance, house appointment history for documentation purposes, request customer feedback, and more. 

Within a Localz portal, customers can also request, reschedule, or cancel maintenance appointments; provide status updates if something changes or worsens before their appointment; and communicate with technicians regarding important access information (e.g. gate codes, parking instructions). 

Ready to save money, increase documentation, reduce downtime, and build better customer relationships with proactive maintenance? 

Learn More

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