Your Secret Weapon in Engaging Business Customers: Your Team

By Emily Rich on

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Digitization is contributing to a massive transformation in the way we partner with customers on the energy transition. 60% of business customers prefer regular contact with their utility by email and businesses prefer digital to traditional channels for managing their energy. Uplight’s leading digital customer engagement platform enables utilities to meet these business customer preferences through self-service and proactive outbound engagement. Using these tools, businesses receive personalized insights and recommendations that they can act on, utilities are better positioned as “trusted advisors” to these customers, and utilities reduce their cost-to-serve this difficult-to-reach segment. While fostering digital self-service for business customers is a win-win-win, it is not enough. 

Utility staff who work with business customers know that despite the growing importance of digital tools, direct outreach remains a critical piece of deep engagement with businesses. For this reason, Uplight’s tool serves two audiences: business customers and the utility staff who serve them. When applied correctly, digital tools can augment – not replace – utility staff engagement with the business sector. Businesses can self-serve and gain value from customer engagement tools directly while also receiving deeper, more personalized direct outreach from the utility staff who serve them. Here are three main groups who can amplify the power of digital engagement tools to reach your business customers:

Key Account Managers

Key Account Managers often have a lot on their plates, serving as the conduit for all utility happenings to the business customers they advise. From years of working with Key Account Managers, we know that it can be helpful to bring proactive updates with recommended actions to important business customers. Through Uplight’s tool, Key Account Managers can identify opportunities for saving money and energy and highlight these opportunities in a customizable, personalized report. For instance, one utility advisor used our tool to identify a few simple operational changes that could save a community center $40,000 per year. By proactively bringing projects like this to customers’ attention, Key Account Managers can increase customer satisfaction and better position themselves as trusted advisors. 

Customer Service Representatives

A digital engagement solution has a two-fold benefit for customer service representatives. First, after a customer engagement tool deployment, business customers can more easily self-serve to reduce the need for calls to the call center – answering questions like “Why is my bill so high this month?”, “what can I do to save money and energy”?, and “What end uses are contributing most to my costs?” on their own. In addition to self-service, customer service representatives can use the tool directly to pull up any business customer’s personalized energy insights, allowing them to easily answer the majority of inquiries on the spot. After deploying our tool, one utility partner saw a 20x increase in first-call resolution.

Program Teams

Utility teams increasingly seek partnerships with their business customers, on energy efficiency savings, load flexibility, and time-varying rates adoption. Uplight’s digital engagement platform includes the Report Builder tool, which allows utility program teams to create branded reports that include personalized insights and clear value explanations of program participation.

For instance, a DSM Program Manager with a refrigeration program targeted at small grocery stores could use our tool to segment grocery customers who would benefit from the program. They then would create a template for the grocery program that folds in personalized energy data, payback periods, and free-form text explaining the program. They can send these tailored reports directly to customers, or bring a printed report along on a field visit. When using Report Builder in this way, a utility partner saw a 50% increase in action taken from their previous method of outreach – increasing action and reducing operational costs through increased efficiency. 

Business customer engagement is tricky – we know from 14 years of experience working with business customers and the advisors who serve them. Business customers need an engagement solution custom-built around their unique needs and outreach that reflects their preferences. Using a digital-first strategy of combining self-serve customer engagement tools with advisor-focused tools is a winning combination for reaching this important set of customers. 

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