This special interest group is where customer care professionals share tactics on how utilities are improving interactions with their customers. 


10 Tips for Communicating With Customers About TOU

image credit: ID 128053764 © Fizkes |
Karen Marcus's picture
Freelance Energy and Technology Researcher and Writer Final Draft Communications, LLC

Karen Marcus has 25 years of experience as a content developer within the energy and technology industries. She has worked with well-known companies, providing direction, research, writing, and...

  • Member since 2017
  • 416 items added with 371,594 views
  • Feb 22, 2019

Time-of-use (TOU) pricing is a win-win-win for utilities, their customers, and the environment. However, a new pricing structure can be confusing and frustrating for customers, especially if they don’t understand how it benefits them. That’s why each utility that rolls out some form of TOU pricing must develop a robust strategy to communicate about it with customers. Here are a few tips to get you started.

  1. Evaluate customer trust. Once you decide to implement TOU pricing, it may be tempting to immediately develop a communications to-do list, but all communication must be built on a foundation of trust. So, before doing anything else, take a step back and think about the level of trust customers have with your utility. If you’re not sure, conduct a survey to gauge it. If it’s high, you’re good to go. If it’s low, consider righting past wrongs, implementing customer care improvements, or strengthening your overall communications strategies.
  2. Consider your framing. Frame TOU pricing in as positive a light as possible. Help customers understand how it can, for example, support their use of renewables.
  3. Make it a pocketbook issue. Help customers understand that TOU pricing can save them money.
  4. Take advantage of data. Consider using analytics to determine each customer’s savings potential, and present this information in initial communications. Then, follow up with actual usage and payment data once the program rolls out.
  5. Customize it. Ideally, you would customize messages for each customer. If that’s not possible, identify groups that might be receptive to different angles. For example, Millennials, who are highly concerned about global warming, might like to know about the positive environmental impact, while customers with low incomes may be more interested to learn about aspects of the program designed to help them.
  6. Use specific examples. Don’t just tell customers they need to use less power during a certain period, or to turn off the lights. Explain how they can run the washing machine at a different time, run the dishwasher late at night, turn down heat and air conditioning, etc. Walk them through a day in the life of a successful TOU pricing customer. Be sure to consider different lifestyles and energy sources available. In addition, help them understand how to use certain tools, such as Nest, to assist.
  7. Communicate across channels. As with all communications, it’s important to meet customers where they are. Use past interactions to know where people are likely to see and respond to your messaging, including bill inserts, paper or emailed newsletters, your blog, media ads, or various social media platforms.
  8. Make it easy. If folks need to opt into or out of your program, be careful about how you implement it. If a customer has already done the necessary administration, ensure they’re not getting another message through a different channel to do it again.
  9. Be available for further help and guidance. Prominently announce where customers can contact you with questions, and prepare your customer care center for possible calls regarding TOU pricing.
  10. Get help. Partners such as local media, environmental organizations, and others can help you spread the word.

A strong communication strategy will help customers adopt habits that strengthen each utility’s TOU program.

Has your utility implemented TOU pricing? If so, what has been your communication strategy with customers? Please share in the comments.


No discussions yet. Start a discussion below.

Get Published - Build a Following

The Energy Central Power Industry Network is based on one core idea - power industry professionals helping each other and advancing the industry by sharing and learning from each other.

If you have an experience or insight to share or have learned something from a conference or seminar, your peers and colleagues on Energy Central want to hear about it. It's also easy to share a link to an article you've liked or an industry resource that you think would be helpful.

                 Learn more about posting on Energy Central »