This post was originally published on the Ecotagious website. Ecotagious is now Uplight.
Three Key Benefits of Creating a Personalized Experience for Utility Customers
It will be very hard for people to watch or consume something that has not in some sense been tailored for them
-Eric Schmidt, Google
According to Accenture’s 2017 New Energy Consumer report, personalization and a focus on customer-centricity is no longer an option, it’s a must. Thanks to service providers like Amazon, Netflix, Google, Uber and countless others, customers today expect to be presented with information that has been tailored and curated just for them.
Although providing personalized experiences has historically come at a high cost, many utilities are now sitting on an abundance of smart meter data that has made it possible to offer tailored and curated customer experiences cost effectively. With rising customer expectations and easy access to rich data, the following 3 benefits have made personalization the obvious move for leading utilities.
Benefit #1 – Enhanced Customer Engagement
Engaging customers in their energy usage has always been a challenge. Other industries overcome similar challenges by quickly capturing their customers’ attention through personalized and relevant insights within seconds upon their arrival to the site.
Imagine applying this approach to your customers account homepage:
“Good Morning Emily,
Due to the expected heat wave, we anticipate higher than normal electricity use this week driven by air conditioning. So far this summer, air-conditioning accounts for 35% of your bill. Click here to see some helpful tips chosen for you on how you can save on AC.
Below is a simple graph showing how much energy your household has consumed on major appliances over the past month…”
This is exactly the type of personalization that consumers desire today. With advances in metering and data analytics, most utilities are already sitting on data to make this level of personalization possible. In fact, some industry-leading utilities have embraced personalization and are already seeing results in the form of more satisfied customers and progress towards energy efficiency targets.
Benefit #2 – Higher Cost-Effectiveness
Detailed data analytics can now allow utilities to follow through on the oft-repeated mantra of “putting the consumer first”. This can manifest itself in ways such as improved customer service representative (CSR) response times to the offering of personalized messaging and DSM program offerings.
Today’s consumers value proactive solutions, detailed findings, and clear direction with respect to their high bills. Enhanced analytics allow CSR’s to provide detailed answers and tailored recommendations for each customer calling in to inquire about their high bill.
Customers have also become adept at tuning out generic content. Personalization allows for tailored messaging that grabs the attention of individual customers. More personalized messaging also allows utilities to empower their customers with valuable details, insights, DSM programs and tailored recommendations that motivate customers to take action.
Providing this level of actionable information to customers either directly or via CSRs ultimately means more impact for every dollar spent.
Benefit #3 – Increased Energy Savings
According to a recent study by Utility Drive, 72% of utilities believe that financial incentives are the most effective motivator for driving energy decisions, including energy efficiency. This may be true, but if today’s consumers cannot understand their usage data, they are less likely to alter their behavioral patterns solely based on assumptions. Therefore, before today’s consumers can even begin to engage in efficient consumption, they must understand the drivers of their usage, in addition to the solution options that are right for them, including the financial benefit of pursing each option.
Demand response and efficiency programs will only be as effective as their ability to target and engage the right customers. The ability to target program-eligible customers using personalized and engaging messaging, is the key to successful, cost-effective program implementation in the information age.
As leading companies outside the utility industry continue to command the attention of utility customers, utilities need to find new and creative ways to engage their customers in their energy use. Many utilities already have access to the data and tools required to provide their customers with the data driven personalization that can both engage their customers and influence the behavior change desired.
Specifically, utilities can now tap into turn-key solutions making it easier to:
- Engage customers in their energy use
- Cost-effectively deliver solutions that customers want
- Have customers take actions that will deliver greater energy savings
Once achieved, this combination of personalization, simplicity, and data driven solutions will organically result in energy literate, consumption conscious, satisfied consumers.