In the first blog post of this series we discussed five trends that are driving complexity for utilities and their customers:
- New enabling technologies
- Mounting pressure
- Energy management
- Clean energy
- Customer choice
In part two of this series, we’ll address the importance of customer satisfaction and engagement for utilities to achieve their energy savings goals while meeting customer demand.
The relationship between customers and utilities has historically not been the strongest. According to Accenture’s 2014 study on energy consumers, only 37 percent of consumers trust their utilities to provide sound energy advice and 71 percent expect their energy providers to do more to help reduce their energy bills. As renewables, distributed generation and other forms of clean power create the real possibility of long-term change to the industry, utilities will need to adjust their business models to build and maintain customer loyalty and engagement.
In order for utilities to achieve their savings goals and increase customer loyalty, they need targeted, simple, personalized and cost-effective communication that deliver value and make it easy for customers to participate in energy efficiency offerings. It’s time to evolve the utility industry from an invisible, generalized service transacted with rate-payers, to a collaborative engagement between a trusted partner and an informed consumer in order to cost-effectively meet individual customer needs and utility goals. Analytics and a sophisticated understanding of how to influence purchasing decisions are essential elements to reaching these desired outcomes.
BUILD INFORMED RELATIONSHIPS WITH CUSTOMERS BY “LEADING” FROM THE DATA
Today, utilities can take advantage of a veritable universe of information about consumer demographics and behavior. Everything from census data to purchasing habits can be analyzed and disaggregated to identify engagement opportunities. Meanwhile, the “internet of things” is overlapping with smart grid advancements to provide a whole new opportunity for deep understanding of energy usage.
For customer engagement to be more cost-effective for utilities, it’s important that it be approached from a holistic, portfolio level. When different offerings within a utility’s energy efficiency portfolio are run in “silos” with disparate budgets, goals, and marketing campaigns, engagement efforts become redundant—speaking to the same audience and competing for the same share of voice in the market.
By starting with Customer Engagement Mapping, a tool that Ecova uses to begin this portfolio-level approach, utilities can gain an understanding of every customer touch point, and more strategically plan the interactions that will guide customers toward a targeted outcome.
By combining these existing and new data sources with sophisticated analytics, utilities can design and deliver personalized communications that drive customers to participate in their energy management.