So, tonight at home, we had a multi-hour power outage. [side note: it really is boring without electricity]
I called our electric company (Puget Sound Energy [S&P400: PSD]) to report the outage, just in case no one else had. I started off with a phone tree, that usually drive me nuts; PSE surprised me with a really slick automated system.
I hit 1 for power outages or gas leaks; 2 for power outages; and finally 1 because I didn't know where the outage was from. It read me back the first 4 digits of my address to confirm (by matching the number I called from with my account), and I hit 1 to confirm. It read back that my outage report had been received, and that 25 other people in my area had called, and that an estimated 695 homes were without power. This was approximately 5 minutes after the power failed.
All this, automated. Wow.
I called back a couple more times, and it knew that I had already registered the outage (“You have already reported an outage, please hold for more information.”) and gave me updated statistics: 30 minutes later, 52 people had called it in, and an hour later, 75 people called it in. Quite an impressive system, overall.