Voice-of-Customer Research: Understanding the Facility Managers

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Uplight has conducted hundreds of focus groups, listening sessions, and surveys with business customers from small, medium, and large accounts. We use this research to better understand the customer experience of non-residential energy consumers. Who are they, what do they want, and what are they not getting right now?

To answer these questions Uplight created a number of “invented people”, fake personas complete with names, histories, and backgrounds. These fictional customers are essentially the average of hundreds of real people we’ve spoken with over the years. Personas help us better understand the way business customers interact with their utilities, better identify gaps in communication, and better articulate how utilities can improve engagement with their non-residential customers. Meet Frank Newberry, facility manager.

Understanding Your Customers

Frank is a 53 year old who lives and works in Milwaukee. He has a B.S in mechanical engineering and 25 years of experience at various positions in commercial facility management with most of his time having been spent in the grocery sector. He’s an expert on grocery store operations and takes a lot of pride in his experience.

Frank is currently in charge of the six stores that make up a local grocery chain and is the go to “hands-on” guy.

Franks mandate is likely “Handle all building or equipment related problems and establish, implement and administer a responsive and efficient 24- hour per day, 7 days per week emergency maintenance capability.” or something similar.

Facilities managers at chain accounts tend to have a border and more diverse workload than their counterparts at a single industrial building. Frank is interested in energy efficiency, sure, but he’s also tasked with managing and improving every other critical system, from the store PA systems to front of house signage. Budgets for these individuals tend to be tight. Frank is likely balancing long and short term costs for every capital project and keeping a close eye on ROI.

Energy costs aren’t the first thing he goes after to keep within the operating budget. Large, capital intensive retrofits are less appealing to frank than simpler, short term solutions that can add incremental value.

Franks Goals

  • Find ways to save money and stay within a fixed budget
  • Need data to back up and justify ideas to management
  • Easily track and view progress and impact of changes

Pain Points

  • Lots of ideas, but never seems to have the data to back them up and make them a reality
  • Often feels unqualified or unequipped for assigned tasks
  • Perpetual list of things to do or take care of


  • Wants his energy company to help him make decisions, not complicate them
  • Emails not always the most convenient way to see rollup, would prefer a simple online portal

Using Personas

Uplight has built this persona into our customer facing technologies. That means that when we design features, upgrade functionality, or make decisions about how to display data, we are doing so with Frank in our minds. As a thought exercise, consider the program you’re working on right now and ask yourself “how would Frank react to this?” picturing a real person can help add clarity to your decision making.


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