What to Give Utility Customers for the Holidays
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- Dec 6, 2019 9:51 pm GMT
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Want to thank your customers for their continued business, strengthen customer relationships, and improve your customer experience (CX) all in one swoop? If so, consider offering some holiday goodies this year. Of course, you already provide the basics of reliable power, consistent customer care, prompt outage response, and helpful energy tracking. So, think about how you can go beyond these essentials to impress and delight.
Energy utility customers trust their utilities to share information about energy efficiency and related topics. You can take this trust to the next level by providing an online marketplace where customers can find energy-efficient products. Smart Energy Consumer Collaborative (SECC) suggests in a recent post that you extend such a marketplace to “distant extensions of the relationships that providers have with customers and their homes, e.g., home maintenance and security.”
SECC describes the efforts of the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD), whose customers include a segment who are very tech-savvy, expect come level of automation, prefer self-service, and are interested in energy efficiency. SMUD “realized that an e-commerce marketplace with energy-efficient products would likely meet many of this segment’s needs, but first, they conducted extensive customer research to inform the specific path forward.” The SMUD Energy Store “officially launched in October 2017 with customer’s most-requested products, including smart thermostats, smart home products, LEDs, and more.”
Everyone loves an opportunity to save and you can initiate a program to help customers do it. One example of such a program comes from Baltimore Gas and Electric (BGE). Its Smart Energy Rewards program allows customers to earn credits on summer electricity bills. BGE requests that customers “simply reduce [their] electric use on BGE Energy Savings Days and save.”
Any customer with a smart meter is eligible to participate. BGE notifies customers of high demand days and notifies them within a few days of how much they saved during the peak event. Bill credits of $1.25 per kilowatt-hour saved are applied to the next bill.
Another helpful money saver for both residential and business customers is rebates. For residential customers, for example, Xcel Energy offers rebates on home lighting, appliances, renewable energy options, energy efficiency, and home improvements. For businesses, the company offers rebates for equipment, energy audits, renewable programs, energy efficient buildings, demand reduction, income-qualified assistance programs, and energy efficient projects.
Utility of the Future
According to a recent article about the utility of the future, “The utility customer of the future has a personal relationship with their utility, which provides a dedicated ‘smart home platform’ that they can access through their phone, laptop, tablet, or smart home speaker. The platform delivers a personalized, data-driven customer experience in real time, as well as services such as home energy management enabled by AI; transactions management; and other products and services in addition to electricity.”
What can your utility do to move in the direction of such a streamlined approach to energy delivery? You may already have some of the services (such as smart appliances and time of use rates) in this suite available and just need to merge them into a more unified system. Even the simple act of brainstorming ideas for future integrations (of, say, peer-to-peer transaction tools) is a gift your customers will appreciate down the road.
As you look for ways to connect with customers this holiday season, consider offering (or announcing the intention to create) one or more new programs to help them join you in creating a more sustainable energy future.
How does your utility go above and beyond for customers? Please share in the comments.