4 Benefits of Digital Engagement for Utility Business Customers

Jenny Zhao

Customer engagement has been the name of the game for utilities and energy retailers lately, and a number of offerings have entered the market to address this need. But why does digital engagement really matter, and what is the added value for energy providers? We believe there are four key benefits to digital engagement, which we have set out to address with Ecova’s new Digital Engagement solution for utility business customers. Be sure to register for our upcoming webinar, “Are You Ready to Learn What Digital Engagement Can Do for You?” on May 5, 2016 to learn more.

1.  IT HELPS REACH HARD-TO-ENGAGE CUSTOMERS AND CUSTOMER SEGMENTS

More and more utilities around the nation have been designing commercial energy efficiency programs to drive greater adoption and engagement among commercial customers, particularly underserved and hard-to-reach segments. Small business owners hardly think about their utility outside of the monthly bill payment, let alone give a thought to energy efficiency. Likewise, even many large business customers don’t interact with their utility, and when they do, it is often a less than ideal event. Digital engagement solutions such as Ecova’s tackle this problem by helping businesses of all sizes make informed decisions about their energy spending and consumption. Customers understand and appreciate the actionable recommendations specific to their own building system and energy usage – not generic or benchmarked against their industry or peers. This helps them experience better interactions with their utility, dramatically transforming how they think of their energy provider.

2.  IT DRIVES MORE SCALABLE ADOPTION OF PROGRAMS

As utilities face ever-rising energy efficiency targets and regulatory mandates – and energy providers seek to drive distributed energy resources into the market – one key challenge has been how to spur mass adoption of commercial programs at scale. Digital engagement offerings address this need by providing customers with customized insights about their energy use. More rapid and cost-effective than traditional delivery models and sales efforts, software applications help scale adoption of programs and products by providing more user-friendly customer experiences and customer-specific recommendations. Utilities and their customers also continually benefit from new features and platform enhancements as they become available. Ecova’s solutions in particular have a track record of quadrupling customer engagement rates among businesses.

3.  IT POSITIONS UTILITIES AS A TRUSTED ENERGY PARTNER

The energy supply and management market is becoming increasingly sophisticated and competitive, and energy providers know they need to become more customer-centric and technology-oriented in order to navigate this complex landscape. Digital engagement hones in on this challenge by providing utilities with a platform to expand their voice and role in the energy management process.

Utilities, for example, are being challenged to explore new business models that rethink their role in the energy system and fundamentally shift how the grid must be managed. Ecova’s Marketplace portal, which is being deployed as part of a broader demonstration project with Con Edison for New York’s Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) proceeding, has been designed with this very mission in mind as utilities move toward a more distributed energy system centered on customer choice. The utility-sponsored Marketplace easily connects customers interested in energy efficiency and distributed energy resource projects to qualified contractors to implement those projects, establishing the utility as their trusted energy advisor and partner both early on and throughout the process. This solution and other similar business models will position utilities to facilitate the entire energy management lifecycle, providing a gateway to introduce new revenue and sell value-added services.

4. IT INCREASES CUSTOMER SATISFACTION

Despite spending a lot on electricity each month, businesses aren’t always that savvy when it comes to what is driving their bills and how they’re trending. Through digital engagement, they can receive a clear lens into their energy spending and consumption as well as ways to save and improve, channeled through an easy-to-use interface. Digital tools also enable utilities to proactively convey information that helps customers better manage their costs, such as high usage alerts during a billing period which give the customer an opportunity to adjust its energy usage.

With these types of features, digital engagement can help make customers happier — and even prevent problems before they start. Utilities today are being judged not only by their own customer service record (check out this PwC report on how customer satisfaction correlates to rate increase requests), but also on how their service compares to other industries that customers regularly interact with – most of which have been quicker to adopt digital technologies. Fortunately, digital engagement solutions available today place utilities in a prime position to improve their reputation and deliver a modern customer experience that stands up to their peers in other sectors.

Did we cover all the benefits you had in mind? We’d love to hear from you – contact us here!

You can also register for our upcoming webinar, “Are You Ready to Learn What Digital Engagement Can Do for You?” on May 5, 2016 to further join the discussion on digital engagement.

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