How to Drive Load Flexibility Amidst The Digital Era
When you think of delightful digital customer experiences, brands like Apple and Amazon probably come to mind far before your electric utility. Post-COVID, that difference between everyday brands and utilities is likely even more pronounced, with at least three times as many companies now versus before the crisis stating that 80% of their customer interactions are digital in nature. Further, with 90% of customers expecting a seamless experience regardless of where those touchpoints occur, cooperation among partners in creating these digital experiences is becoming crucial, too. Navigating your energy choices with digital ease is clearly more necessary than ever, and Uplight is helping address that need.
Subpar digital experiences are one contributing factor to low enrollment rates in utility load flexibility programs, which are critically-needed enablers of decarbonization targets affecting 83% of US customer accounts. Only ~30% of eligible customers typically enroll in these types of programs – from demand response (DR) and time-varying rates to electric vehicle (EV) managed charging. That statistic validates what Uplight Voice of the Customer research has proven time and time again – that nearly 50% of utility customers have limited to no awareness of demand-side management offerings, much less how to sign up for them. It’s this awareness gap that will hamstring utilities from meeting their need for load flexibility in the imminent future.
Uplight is working with utilities as well as our other software, hardware, and services partners to capture a larger portion of these eligible customers by offering low-friction, connected customer journeys that more effectively meet users where they are. We focus on four enabling mechanisms for these connected journeys, from simple, personalized tips to methods for when, how, and in what channel those targeted tips are most effective:
- Nudge customers to the next stage of the journey by cross-promoting adjacent products and services inside of utility channels.
- Consolidate multiple steps of the journey into one action, pulling users through the journey faster.
- Extend the journey to new, non-utility channels to make the journey more accessible to more customers.
- Match the customer to the right journey via the right entry point, then help them find the next journeys.
Each mechanism has unique contributions to awareness and uptake of tips and offers. For example, nudging customers about program opportunities in a previously unutilized utility engagement channel can increase program enrollments by up to 120%. And when a nudge like a smart energy device promotion is consolidated with a DR program enrollment, up to 5X as many customers than those who must enroll in the DR program post-purchase convert.
Channel of choice is also becoming increasingly important as digital experiences abound. In fact, Uplight found in a pilot that after allowing customers to download an app and enroll in programs there, 98% of future enrollees in those programs did so via that new engagement channel. Other customers might only engage with the OEM app associated with their smart energy device, and if not for providing a program enrollment option in that extended channel, would never think to engage with a utility-sponsored offering.
Collecting all of this digital interaction and other energy behavior data – across channels and experiences – in order to match the customer with their next most appropriate tip or offer accompanied by the right motivation is also critical as energy choices shift amidst changing needs and circumstances. With a platform designed for ongoing data feedback loops across end-to-end user journeys, as well as integration with external partners via APIs, Uplight is continuing to iterate on the best application of the first three mechanisms to maximize demand-side program participation and satisfaction while minimizing customer acquisition costs.
To enable the energy transition, massive numbers of energy customers must be inspired to purchase and then provide their distributed energy resources (DERs) in service of the grid, and Uplight is using our four-prong approach (nudge, consolidate, extend, and match) to do just that. Utilities are well-positioned and well-suited for this recruitment effort, but not without these top-notch digital experiences that delight customers, meet them where they are, provide the most relevant recommendations, and drive sustained action.