Apogee Newsletter May 2022

May 25, 2022 | Newsletter

A Remarkable Customer Engagement Stats

Susan Gilbert, CEO, Apogee Interactive, Inc. 

When most utilities pilot anything, they tend to carefully study the impacts.  We work with them to create baselines, determine expectations, form control groups, define where the data will come from, and specify who is responsible for what.  We have had the privilege of being involved in so many pilots over the past 7 years of messaging for utilities, we thought we would share some of the stunning findings that we use to continually refine our applications and up our game-serving our utility clients.  

Here are some findings from an assortment of our clients piloting our Personalized Video Messages designed to help customers understand why their bills changed from the previous month.  These can give others an idea of what they can expect from using this revolutionary approach to customer engagement. 

Watch a sample of our

Personalized Video Messaging…

It’s beginning to make us wonder why we keep doing pilots when the results are becoming so routine and predictable.  Perhaps it’s time to just take the results from more than 35 utilities who have now gone to scale with Personalized Video Messaging and start taking advantage of all its benefits.  

Proven Benefits Include:

  • From its unmatched cost-effectiveness in engaging customers (fractions of a penny per message at scale),
  • To their remarkable ability to totally Wow customers as evidenced in the verbatim comments on hundreds of thousands of surveys, 
  • To their unbeatable ability to promote programs (proven 10% increase in adoption),
  • Their enormous impact driving up customer satisfaction and NPS,
  • Their unique ability to create two-way dialogue with customers,
  • And finally, the advantage of knowing who opened and watched the video and who did not.

Typical Pilot Results

Standard Baselines or Expectations

Pilot Results

Overachievement

Email open rates

20%

45%

More than 2x

Email click through rates (CTRs)

2.3

15% to 30%

6 to 13x

High Bill Calls Reduced

10%

65%

6x!

Increase in NPS

Increase by .2

Increased by 5 points

25x Higher!

Besides the trackable metrics, it’s rewarding to see how customers rate and comment on the video experience.  Now with tens of millions of videos distributed over the past few years for utilities across the US, here is what customers report.    

After viewing the video, this is how customers rate them:

How Easy was the Video to Understand?

94+% EASY or VERY EASY

How Useful was the information presented?

90+% USEFUL or VERY USEFUL

Request continuing receiving videos?

98% YES 

Will you contact the call center?

85% VERY UNLIKELY 

We can put the power of Personalized Videos to work for your company! 

It’s not only easy, it’s fun seeing the delighted customer responses given as verbatim comments. They say things you would never expect to hear from a customer who has just received a bill higher than the previous months.  Typical are words like Amazing! Cool!  Keep sending these!     

Click here to hear one of our favorites, what we call a High Bill Compliment that was left on a utility manager’s voice mail and was shared with us.

Impact on Customer Satisfaction

These results are typical for what we observe from customer surveys.  

JD Power Forecasts Prices Dampening Customer Satisfaction 

According to Adrian Chung, Director – Utility & Infrastructure at JD Power, sharp increases in natural gas rates, coupled with a cooler than normal winter are causing customers’ bills to skyrocket.  This is the #1 customer satisfaction issue facing utilities across the country. This is particularly true for gas companies serving parts of the Mid-west where winter weather is more severe. 

With summer coming, already the most expensive time of year for electric bills in most parts of the country, Fortune reports that some consumers in some regions could be facing bills that are as much as 45% higher than last year.

Pennsylvania regulators issued a warning earlier this month that customers will see increases of 6% to 45% effective June 1. Eversource said at the start of the year that customers could see between a 23% and 25% increase through at least June 30. And South Carolinians are looking at 5% to 19% increases. Overall, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the average American home saw its electric bill jump 4% in February compared to a year ago.

Adrian shared that when COVID struck in 2020, most electric and natural gas utilities ramped up communications and moved to more digital messaging. This had two beneficial consequences: 1.) It took cost out of the call centers and 2.) It helped with customer satisfaction. 

Electric rates will also rise this year in response to higher natural gas price because natural gas is used to power turbines at just under half of America’s energy companies. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has driven up natural gas cost too, which energy companies are passing along to consumers. This will put pressure on customer satisfaction as customers crank up air conditioners as temperatures rise.

According to Adrian, the key is getting out in front of engaging customers and letting them know what is going on, why it is happening, and what they can do about it in advance of the higher bills arriving.  

That is why we are seeing utilities wisely using this critical time to get out in front of the high bills with messaging themed: Prices may have to rise, but we are here to help you save!  Use our online energy audit to get answers about what savings potential exists for your home and see what rebates we have available to you.

 Most know that customer engagement and satisfaction are linked, but management wants answers to the “monetization” question.  As a response we are producing an Apogee Institute webinar featuring JD Power’s Adrian Chung to share deeper insights into what utilities are experiencing and how they are managing to defend their customer satisfaction rankings. 

The proven linkage between Customer Sat and Return on Equity for IOUs was detailed in the 2015 report by Andrew Heath and Dan Seldin, Ph.D. with JD Power.  That report is being updated now for release in the September timeframe.  When it is released, we will offer another Apogee Institute webinar to share the latest results. Read the 2015 Customer Sat and Return on Equity Report. 

Prices may have to rise, but that doesn’t mean customer satisfaction has to suffer.  Join us for these two enlightening webinars to learn more about what is working for utilities that are proactively addressing the issue.  If you want to receive the invitations, contact info@apogee.net and we will be sure you receive them.

Outbound Communications
Yield Improved Utility Perception

Webinar Recording Presented: Tuesday April 12, 2022  | 30 Minutes

 Presenters: Dave Defide, Senior Manager, Customer Programs, at Duquesne Light Company, and Kim Johnson, Key Account Manager at Apogee –

Speaker Bios 

Listen to an informative discussion on how Dave used Apogee’s Personalized Video Messaging to promote his EE programs. The analytics for the outbound communications that delivered the videos showed an increase in customer satisfaction as well an improved perception of Duquesne from their customers, which Dave considers a win.

Are you ready for High Bill season?

30-Minute Webinar Recording from May 19, 2022 

 Presenters: Apogee’s Susan Gilbert CEO & Co-Founder, and Jim Hunter, Director of Customer Engagement Speaker Bios – Speaker Bios 

Are you dreading the upcoming influx of high bill calls that comes with higher summer bills? Are high bill calls driving up call center costs and negatively impacting customer satisfaction? 

Listen to this recorded presentation to learn how leading utilities are reducing the impact of high bill calls by being proactive.

You’ll learn:

  • How a preemptive digital communications strategy reduces calls
  • How CSR tools and training increase first call resolution
  • How to arm representatives with confidence-building answers that build credibility
  • What tools and services are available to help contact center staff.
  • About an exclusive pilot now open to a limited number of utilities.

Stay up to date with the latest trends.

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