Business customers, especially small-to-medium (SMB) customers, are notoriously hard to reach for utilities. No two businesses are alike, with the segment ranging from small mom-and-pop-shops to large multi-site chains to industrial manufacturing facilities.
Added to this, business owners often have limited time to spend engaging with their utility. Our research shows they spend just 5 minutes on a piece of information before moving on. For a utility message to catch their attention, it needs to be relevant and personalized. Generic, blanket outreach won’t be compelling enough to capture these few critical minutes.
Despite these challenges, business customers are a significant segment for utilities to engage, often making up just 10% of customers but over two-thirds of utility load and revenue. And though they are hard to reach, they are ripe for utility engagement. They have high levels of trust in their utility and are willing to take action in partnership with them. Businesses are more likely to take action with their existing energy provider than any other player in the energy ecosystem. But, how do utilities reach these customers?
That’s where Uplight comes in – we position our utility partners as the ‘trusted advisor’ who help customers understand and manage their energy usage and ultimately lower their bills through our digital customer engagement solution. A strong customer-facing engagement solution is incredibly important, as business customers prefer digital channels for most utility touchpoints.
Our customer-facing portal surfaces personalized energy insights and our utility-facing tools equip utility staff to more efficiently and effectively serve business customers. These tools help customers better understand their energy usage and cost trends, what’s contributing to high bills, how they may be able to change their behavior to save energy, and how they can benefit from utility programs or rate plans.
Uplight knows business customers. From our experience working with utilities to engage this critical segment, we’ve learned a few best practices for acting as ‘trusted advisor’ to your business customers:
1. Tailor your engagement solution to the unique needs of all of your business customers. Business customers have complex use cases that are completely distinct from residential customers – applying one-size-fits-all tools to solve business problems won’t work. Your digital customer engagement solution must meet the unique needs of this important segment.
For example, businesses with multiple accounts, multiple sites, and/or multiple meters need to be able to see their energy insights at the appropriate level. If you are a facility manager for one premise of a multi-site business, seeing the entire account’s usage won’t help you. Our tools solve key business use cases, like handling complex multi-account and multi-site customers as well as presenting relevant insights and recommendations to a business’s type and size.
2. Focus on outcomes that help your customers. Digitally engaging all your business customers is the first step in partnership with this critical segment. Once you’ve captured your business customers’ limited attention, it’s critical to convert engagement into outcomes that drive customer value. Uplight focuses on outcomes that benefit both business customers and the utilities that serve them:
- Help businesses save money and energy through a 2x increase in actions taken
- Give businesses positive touchpoints with their provider, with 90%+ customer satisfaction scores
- Help businesses save time through a 2-4x increase in digital self-service
These outcomes help our utility partners by driving better business customer sentiment, reducing operational costs, and increasing program participation. Since digitally engaged customers are more likely to participate in utility offerings, engagement focused on action is a win-win for utilities and their customers.
3. Level up your direct outreach. Despite the growing importance of compelling digital experiences, we know that direct engagement between utility staff and business leaders is still extremely effective. Uplight’s approach leverages utility staff touchpoints to complement the insights your customers can access on their own. We’ve developed comprehensive advisor tools to maximize utility staff impact, which helps reduce cost-to-serve and increase program conversion.
For Key Account Managers (KAMs) and demand-side management (DSM) Program teams, we have customizable and templatizable report tools that can surface our tool’s insights and drive a 50% increase in action from business customers. And for call service representatives, we’ve seen first-call resolution jump from 3% to 66% when the call center is trained on the Uplight tool.
Business customer engagement is difficult. These three steps can help utilities evolve their relationship with businesses to become a ‘trusted advisor’ that helps these customers understand their energy insights and take action that benefits them. Uplight has a proven track record for business customer engagement and is well-positioned to help utilities meet their evolving energy goals in partnership with their business customers.