Finding Value in a Sea of Analytics

October 26, 2017 | Blog

A Sea of Data

Decades of billing data, program participation, weather history, housing stock information, individual consumption, home and business upgrades, and more recently, hourly meter data, represent a wealth of untapped revenue and digital engagement opportunities. The challenges facing utilities are how to identify the opportunities and how to effectively and efficiently take advantage of them.

Consumers expect personalized and relevant communications with companies and more. The consumer companies to demonstrate they care. Fortunately, consumers are willing to share the data necessary to personalize our interactions when those interactions are relevant and useful.

Digital Engagement

Utilities have made effective use of segmentation, but segmentation is not personalization. Segmentation simply categorizes portions of a population based on common characteristics.  Just sending out communications comparing a customer’s energy use to their neighbors is not enough. Increasingly, the customer is saying, “I don’t care about how I compare to others. I want to know what I can do to improve my own efficiency.”

Success comes from relevant communications that are personalized, outbound, proactive. In this digital age, it is rapidly becoming the “internet of me” rather than simply the “internet of things.”

Utility consumers are rarely the original occupants of their current home. As a result, they may not know the age of existing appliances and equipment or the optimum time to replace them with more efficient versions. Data mining enables utilities to communicate with customers when appliances and equipment are nearing their end of life, showing how much they can save by replacing or upgrading. This information is relevant, useful, and timely.

Acceptance of Variability

Consumers have an affinity for weather. It is not a stretch to say that every smart phone user has a weather app and accesses it daily. Consumers expect weather forecasts to be specific to their exact location. And they have no problem with that forecast changing. They understand that weather is variable.

Utilities can take advantage of this acceptance of variability and send customers alerts based on energy consumption and a forecast of what their energy use might be if current patterns of use and forecasted weather take place. Add in ways to use less energy and you have a relevant customer touch point. Make the communication via a short (150 words) video, and you increase the effectiveness further.

Just the effort utility companies make to help customers become more efficient increases customer satisfaction. Customers also have appetite for relevant alerts, and for streamlining all their interactions.

The point is the proactive communication increases customer satisfaction, stimulates program participation, and educates the customer on ways to be more energy conscious. All while reducing cost by a reduction of inbound calls.

The Evolution of Personalization

Digital assistants like Amazon’s Echo promise to take the personalization even further.  These devices put the customer in control, deciding when they want information simply by asking their smart phone or an in-home digital assistant. One word of caution. Err on the side of caring not creepy, relevant communications with customers requires trust. Always offer useful, relevant information.

To find out more about taking advantage of your data resources to improve customer satisfaction, customer engagement, program participation, and develop new sources of revenue, contact kmorris@apogee.net for a copy of Joel Gilbert’s recent webinar on the topic.

 

 

About The Author

Karen Morris, Marketing Manager, Apogee Interactive, Inc.

Karen manages Apogee’s marketing resources service as well as Apogee’s own corporate marketing efforts. For the past 17 years, she’s worked closely with utilities across the country to help them better market their energy efficiency programs through online initiatives. She brings timely and informative webinars to energy professionals through Apogee Institute as well as directs Apogee’s user groups.

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