This post was originally published on Tendril’s website. Tendril is now Uplight.
As utilities begin putting the customer at the center of everything they do, and the technology to support customer-centric programs continues to progress, utility demand-side management (DSM) groups have an opportunity to modernize their programs. By tailoring communications to the three steps of the customer journey — engage, activate and orchestrate — utilities can leverage DSM dollars to bring greater value to customers, the grid and their bottom line. What are the steps of the DSM customer journey?
1. Engage. Like all successful relationships, customer engagement is grounded in consistent and constructive communication. Interactions must be purposeful and beneficial throughout the entire customer journey, but opening an effective line of communication at the early stages is critical for building trust. Distributing monthly bills is no longer enough. The goal of the engagement stage is to deliver valuable, contextualized content that helps customers understand their energy use, and primes them to take action.
At Tendril, we believe that home energy reports (HERs) are the most effective way for utilities to open that line of communication. And by extending their reach to all residential customers, HERs can be used to stimulate engagement, as well as mitigate bill-related confusion and reduce calls to the contact center.
Once trust is enhanced through effective engagement, utilities can move to activate customers.
2. Activate. Each year, Americans spend more than 3650 hours staring at a device screen, but just 8 to 9 minutes thinking about energy. The goal is not to increase the amount of time customers think about energy, but to shift that time from confusion or frustration to taking active steps to reduce costs and increase value. Activation encourages people to think differently about how they interact with energy and ultimately drive more participation utility programs and new energy services.
By leveraging insights derived from data, utilities can deliver personalized offers that spur customers to take action. When utility customer analytics are used to drive the right messages and offers to the right audiences, customers feel like the utility truly understand their needs, which will continue to build trust between the two parties. From inspiring individuals to take simple energy reduction steps, to participating in higher engagement activities like enrolling in an efficiency program or buying energy products on a utility marketplace, activating customers sets the stage for the third and final step of the customer journey: orchestration.
3. Orchestrate. The last step of the journey is to get customers to a point where they trust their utility to automatically optimize their home’s energy use. Using a sophisticated utility analytics platform, utilities can remotely orchestrate the operation of smart devices and DERs in the home. They can determine the best time to cool the home or charge electric vehicles, while maintaining each individual’s preferences and comfort. This will allow customers to effortlessly save energy and money, while demand becomes a resource that utilities can reliably schedule and dispatch.
Tendril’s demand management solution, Orchestrated Energy, has proven the benefits of the orchestration stage by optimizing smart thermostats in the home. Our 2017 roll outs achieved phenomenal energy efficiency and demand management results while keeping customers comfortable and happy.
Sending the right communications to customers at different stages, and helping them move to higher value engagement, can be a challenge for DSM program managers. To do this successfully, it’s important to work with a partner who has the analytics platform, insights and proven ability to move customers along this journey toward greater satisfaction and value creation.