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Utilities, are you doing these 5 things to effectively engage your customers?

We all know that happy customers are the key to a profitable and growing business. Here is a quick and simple checklist with ways to engage your customers and make them happy - all this just by using their energy consumption data.

 

1. Open up the energy bill black box

When consumers know how many steps they take per day, can track their parcel, trace their Uber driver on the map and check their sleeping patterns, it is no brainer why they would want to know what they pay for in their electricity bills.

It’s high time energy providers opened the black box of energy consumption and made it more transparent. When consumers understand how they spend electricity at home and how much it costs them, they can take steps to reduce their energy consumption and energy bill and do their part in making this world a little greener.

"Your highest energy use so far was on Tuesday, December 25h mostly in the afternoon and evening with a usage of 40 kWh costing €8. We can imagine you were preparing your big family Christmas dinner or around this time of year you decorated your whole home with bright Christmas lighting, but we thought you should be aware of the high consumption’’. This is a monthly energy use summary highlighting significant events which help consumers become aware of their energy consumption habits. Here is another example: ‘The use of your washing machine yesterday cost you €3’’.

 

2. Make sure people are on the optimal energy plan

Οftentimes consumers find themselves stuck with an energy plan which is not optimal for their energy profile. How would you like it if your energy provider called you up and proactively offered to switch you to another energy plan which would better match your needs? Happy customers, make for loyal customers which lead to lower churn rates.

Or what if your energy provider was able to detect that you have an EV and offered you a special EV tariff? And to top that up, imagine your energy provider is able to detect when you charge your EV and sends you a message to delay charging to a ‘happy hour’ moment with a discounted rate. Or even better, your utility provides you with a smart charger which automatically charges your EV when the electricity prices are low.

 

3. Alert about appliance energy efficiency

How many of us check the energy efficiency of our appliances after we buy and install them in our homes? Appliances, especially the ones we use for extended periods of time or in back to back sessions can age faster and become less efficient, which results in them consuming more energy. Such changes are not easily detected by consumers.

Wouldn’t it be great if energy providers could detect appliance inefficiency and notify their customers? For example, if an energy provider sees that a customer’s washing machine is consistently consuming well beyond average, they could nudge the consumer to check whether they are consistently washing at 60°C or 90°C. If that’s not the case, then the washing machine is no longer efficient and needs to be replaced. The energy provider could go as far as recommending a new washing machine based on the customer’s energy profile.

 

4.  A little good advice can go a long way 

Imagine how your relationship with your customers would transform if you went from being a mere electricity provider to a trusted partner who can help them identify the best moments and the most efficient ways to consume energy.

For example, you could help consumers better configure their EV charging pattern with their solar production moments to boost their self-sufficient home energy usage.

Or, if an energy provider sees that a customer’s home energy consumption is high compared to others’ with a similar profile, they could nudge the customer to perform an energy leak home scan or run an energy waste checker service. If the leak is found and fixed, it is not unusual that it can lead to a cost reduction in the range of 10-30%.

What’s more, if a customer doesn’t trust his/her energy consumption readings, the utility can send him/her an energy self check to disaggregate energy consumption and find out which appliances and activities are using up the most. This could reduce customer service costs up to 25%.

 

5. Help them reduce their energy consumption with new products/services

Utilities need to be one step ahead of their customers in order to be able to scan new products and services which will help their customers reduce their energy consumption and cut down on their energy costs. The old utility business model where consumers needed to consume as much energy as possible in order for the utility to be profitable is no longer sustainable. In today’s modern world, it is all about helping customers reduce their energy consumption and building your business on the managed services that come with it.

For example, utilities can inform their customers about local subsidy plans for reducing energy consumption that they could benefit from by installing heat pumps, smart thermostats or solar panels. Or, utilities could offer a discount for a solar panel installation on their customers’ rooftop.

Elisavet Sergiadou's picture
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Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Mar 5, 2021

How would you like it if your energy provider called you up and proactively offered to switch you to another energy plan which would better match your needs? Happy customers, make for loyal customers which lead to lower churn rates.

I can see some customers reacting skeptically-- what's the catch? Isn't the utility just trying to get more money out of me? Of course that wouldn't be the case with this type of outreach, but how do you go about assuring the customer with his or her eyebrow raised that that's the case? 

Henry Craver's picture
Henry Craver on Mar 15, 2021

All great things that I'd like to see adopted by the utility that serves me. But what incentive is there for power companies to do these things when so many are essentially monopolies in their respective regions? 

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