Apogee Newsletter September 2020

September 1, 2020 | Newsletter

Apogee Addresses Energy Equity with Georgia PSC Commissioner Tim Echols

Utilities today face unprecedented and enormous challenges with customers unable to pay their bills due to the COVID- 19 pandemic. Some of course are the traditional low-income customers who routinely struggle with payment. The recent widespread unemployment and underemployment rates have skyrocketed to levels rivaling the great depression.

Many customers find themselves in the position of asking for financial assistance for the first time. Utilities are responding in creative, proactive, and productive ways with payment assistance programs, creative and flexible repayment plans, energy savings advice, and promotion of community outreach organizations. As moratoriums for collections and disconnections lift, communicating with customers has become more vital than ever to keep them informed and empowered, giving them what Apogee refers to as the Power of Customer Choice®.

Many customers find themselves in the position of asking for financial assistance for the first time. Utilities are responding in creative, proactive, and productive ways with payment assistance programs, creative and flexible repayment plans, energy savings advice, and promotion of community outreach organizations. As moratoriums for collections and disconnections lift, communicating with customers has become more vital than ever to keep them informed and empowered, giving them what Apogee refers to as the Power of Customer Choice®.

On the ENERGY MATTERS radio show, Commissioner Echols and Apogee COO, Jim Malcom, discussed why utilities promote wise use of energy and what they are doing to help customers during this unsettling time. Recognizing that those unable to pay their bills are not likely to invest in home efficiency upgrades, the messaging has to be focused on behavioral energy recommendations and communication strategies such as alerts, bill explanations, and access to online tools for free self-service energy assessments.

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After Home Energy Reports…What’s Next?

In our August Apogee Institute Webinar, Apogee Founder and CEO, Susan Gilbert, was joined by Key Account Manager, Stephanie Knight, and Guidehouse Principal Research Analyst, Neil Strother, for a quick recap of the history and current status of Behavioral Energy Reports. We took a deep dive into alternatives utilities can use to not just modernize, but to truly revolutionize their customer messaging.

The webinar began with a look to the digital engagement leaders in other industries. Customers don’t usuallycompare communication from their utility with another utility. They compare their utility’s communication with Amazon, their bank, their favorite grocery store, and their other providers. Susan shared images of what her favorite vendors are using for digital engagement. American Express and Amazon average 6 or more messages a month to customers, all timely and appreciated. Stephanie shared her tele-medicine text conversations with her physician that were informative, relevant, and convenient. She went on to share the special offers she has received from a

company called Thrive, alerting her to when she might be running out of something previously ordered, and mentioning it is on sale that day. This is a great example of marketing automation. With those other industry examples as backdrop, we went on to show what dozens of progressive utilities have been refining and perfecting for more than 6 years now: Personalized Video Messages.

For additional insights and to learn more about Personalized Video Messaging and how it can help you communicate with your customers with impactful results, watch the webinar below.

Click to download the After Energy Reports Video or Presentation

With all this Zooming and Teaming, who can’t use some humor!

For comic relief on your next video conference, we are providing you with this Video Conference Bingo card. Have your attendees print it out and X out the items as they occur during your
meetings. Challenge everyone to be the FIRST to shout BINGO when you complete a column or row.

Apogee Recognizes Jackson EMC for Customer Excellence

Apogee Interactive announced last month that Jackson EMC, a 230,000 member cooperative headquartered in Jefferson Georgia, is the recipient of Apogee’s 2020 Customer Excellence award.

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The award recognizes outstanding performance among hundreds of Apogee’s utility clients for exceptional customer service and ongoing member engagement using Apogee’s Personalized Video Bill Explanations and Virtual Energy Assessments.

Upon receiving and watching the personalized videos, members are asked to complete a short survey. The results have been stunning: more than 90% of Jackson EMC’s members found them easy to understand, and 95% found the information useful. More compelling were the verbatims comments. One member commented, “I like that you send these videos to help us understand what lowers or increases the bill so we can try and work on that area to improve energy costs. Thank you.” Another wrote, “This video presentation is VERY EFFECTIVE. Please continue to provide this critical information about my usage, affecting factors, and how to reduce costs. Extremely Pleased!”

The award also acknowledges the vital role of Jackson EMC’s marketing team. The team led by Lee Chapman, VP of Marketing and Member Services, with Christy Queen, Director of Residential Marketing, and Tiffeny Tolder, Senior Member Engagement Specialist, earned the recognition for their outstanding work in driving awareness and execution of the platform.

Jackson EMC’s CEO, Chip Jackins, said,

“Apogee continues to innovate, and our engagement scores continue to rise even in these uncertain times during COVID-19.”

He continued, “The Virtual Energy Assessment and the Personalized Video Messaging allows us to reach our members safely and efficiently through their outbound messaging platform.

Click here to hear his opening remarks from the Apogee Institute Webinar

Apogee CEO, Susan Gilbert, adds, We are proud to have served Jackson EMC as a trusted business partner for more than 20 years. It’s rewarding to see the innovation we provide utilities across the US enabled here benefiting our fellow Georgians. We pride ourselves on “future-proofing” decisions to use our customer engagement platform because we will continue pushing the envelope of what can be done cost-effectively with high impact.”

Apogee Expands OPC Offering to Georgia Co-ops

To make Apogee’s services more accessible and affordable for the Georgia Co-ops, Oglethorpe Power Corporation and Apogee have executed a master agreement which provides significant savings and enhanced services for participating cooperatives. Information about that program is available upon request.

In August, Apogee and Oglethorpe Power Corporation conducted a webinar demonstrating what is currently available through the master agreement at discounted pricing and enhanced service levels to all the Georgia cooperatives.

Click here to download the recording.

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