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Diversity and Women in the Energy Industry

Posted By Kelly Mulder, Thursday, March 1, 2018

Takeaways from the 2018 AESP Conference Leadership Roundtable

I’ve been attending Association for Energy Services Professionals (AESP) conferences, sessions, and brown bags for almost 10 years, but I wasn’t really sure what to expect from this Diversity and Women roundtable. First, the room for the session was on a different floor from the other conference sessions and was also smaller thant the rest. For once I was early (I'm usually trying to squeeze in as many sessions as possible), so I was able to slowly watch as that small room filled up to standing room only. What a  great sight to see! The session room may have been small, but this was not a disadvantage. In fact, it created an intimate setting and led to great interactions between the moderator, panelists, and attendees.

Diversity and Women are obviously very relevant topics in the energy industry and in the world today. But do we ever get a chance to have an honest and open conversation? In a space that is welcoming, non-judgmental, and our careers don’t feel on the line? Better yet, with individuals facing similar discussions in the same or similar industries? This is what AESP is all about. Sessions like this are what make AESP, as an organization, dynamic and ensure we can continue to advanceour industry through discussions like this that provide the best types of professional developmentand support for everyone.

My personal key takeaways from this roundtable include the following:

  • Get yourself a personal Board of Directors. That is, mentors, sponsors, friends, and family that take an interest in helping you develop your career.
  • Be intentional with and plan your career.
  • Do your homework early.
  • Know the key stakeholders in your company.
  • Take risks—especially in the beginning of your career.
  • Speak up!
  • Remember where you begin isn’t where you will necessarily end up.
  • Make connections in your industry.
  • Words matter. “I’m a mom AND a marketing professional dedicated to my work.”‘ (Not “I’m a professional, but also a mom”).

Some takeaways for organizations include the following:

  • Create a deliberate gender and diversity plan.
  • Measure successes from that plan and adapt as needed, regularly.
  • Create a level playing field.
  • Foster mentorships for everyone. (Men and women can be mentors to men and women alike).
  • Lead by example. Lead and live your new culture at every level of the organization.

 

Want to chat about it? Give me a call, email, or tweet @KelEfficiency and I’d love to start a conversation. The moderator and panelists listed below would also love to hear from you.

Session Overview

Moderator: Quinn Parker, AESP

Speakers: Michelle Branigan, Electricity Human Resources Canada; Sabrina M. Brooks, PECO; and Kim Winslow, KCP&L

AESP is continually seeking ways to serve a diverse and evolving energy industry. This Leadership Roundtable will be a facilitated discussion in an intimate setting that will be focused on diversity and the growth of women leaders within the industry. Three successful female leaders will share their perspectives on diversity in the energy/utility industry, as well as their own career trajectory. This will be a productive session wherein attendees can learn more about the state of workforce diversity in the energy industry, be inspired by the accomplishments and careers of these leaders, and come away with actionable insights to apply to their own careers.

AESP Mission Statement

We are a dynamic community of energy professionals dedicated to advancing the industry through professional development, networking, and supporting for a resilient, sustainable energy future.


 

Tags:  #AESP18  Diversity  Energy Efficiency  KPC&L  Leadership  Nexant  PECO  Women 

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Proven Strategies for Building Email & Mobile Lists

Posted By Karen Morris, Monday, February 19, 2018

Apogee Institute recently hosted an event highlighting digital customer engagement where panelist from  E Source, Jackson EMC, PPL, LCEC, and Duke Energy shared their story. Keenan Samuelson, Analyst & CCXP, of E Source laid the groundwork outlining his Utility Marketing Survey. Keenan named the top three strategies for collecting digital contact information as automated capture, such as registering for and online account, online service orders or online bill pay, marketing efforts, through direct contact from the call center, and a poll strategy, giving customers something of value in return for information such as bill explanations, payment reminders, outage updates and energy use alerts.

Shared challenges faced by utilities named during the presentations where:

  • Conservative policies: Proving to utility executives that increased customer satisfaction is directly related to frequent, valuable, information exchange through multiple channels.
  • Antiquated CIS portals: Difficulty storing and collecting data through call center contact due to missing fields for email or mobile.
  • Regulation: SMS messaging needs consent and record retention, email requires SPAM compliance and list maintenance. Processes need to be set up by utilities to comply.

How are utilities meeting these challenges?

Amy Bryan, Director of Residential Marketing, Jackson EMC, has ranked in the top 5 for customer satisfaction in her segment consistently since 2005 but, faced the challenge of conservative communications policies. To convince management, she launched a pilot that delivered value through personalized video bill explanation, triggered when the customer’s bill was higher than usual. Then energy summary reports were sent, each with a call to action. Surveys show the emails received a 90% satisfaction rating with less than 1% choosing not to receive the emails. Starting with only 50 thousand emails collected through paperless billing and call centers, in 2018 Bryan will launch advertising campaigns that drive members to a preference center allowing customers to opt-in, increasing their digital reach. Delivering value made the difference.

Susan Smith, Customer Experience Specialist, PPL, believes in the power of digital communications, her paperless billing campaign increased enrollment by 60%. Her biggest obstacle was collecting text consent. There was no way to know if the phone number on file was mobile. Her solution was to create a screen pop in the CIS portal that asks the CSR to explain the benefits of email and text messaging and gain the consent needed to send information. CSR’s efforts had an 86% success rate. She also developed a preference center, that proved 83% successful, and IVR prompts that delivered a 56% success rate. Getting the call center on board was key but Susan sees all customer contact points as opportunities.

Joe Padgett, Director of Customer Care, LCEC, discovered his customers wanted digital communications 24/7. In 2010 he had only 20% of his customer’s emails. He then began to put accountability in place through performance reviews that held CSRs responsible for collecting and updating information. Today he has 86% of his customer’s email information. He then delivered value through bill notifications and high bill alerts. Other tactics include a preference center, mail, and an email customer care box. He also uses a third-party vendor to keep his email database purged of bad emails.

Sandra Buzzard and Tamarah Delevan, Digital Engagement Team, Duke Energy have extended their digital reach by email from 26% in 2016 to 58% by the end of 2017. How did they do it? CSRs collect emails from inbound calls. Email addresses are used for user names such as start/stop services on the web, and online accounts. Duke Energy has a preference center on their website also accessible on Facebook. They have also purchased lists to match up email addresses with name, addresses, and phone numbers.

If your goal is to increase customer satisfaction through customer engagement it is vital to give personalized messaging that brings value. To do this effectively, the first step is gathering correct emails and mobile numbers. Forward-thinking utilities are paving the way to a better customer experience. If you would like to listen to the full presentation you can download the recording here.

Contact Karen Morris at 678-684-6801 or kmorris@apogee.net for more information.

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Tags:  Apogee Interactive  Customer Engagement Residential Programs  digital engagement 

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Apogee Launches Envoy an Extensive Digital Engagement Platform for Utilities

Posted By Karen Morris, Wednesday, February 14, 2018

#741 - DI - Apogee - V2 from Apogee Interactive on Vimeo.

Personalized Utility Communications Increases Customer Satisfaction by 16%

Atlanta, GA – Feb. 15, 2018, Apogee Interactive, Inc. announced today their latest innovation, Envoy, a complete outbound communications platform for utility customer communications. This end-to-end digital engagement strategy includes personalized energy bill analysis videos, mid-cycle and threshold alerts, email messaging, and periodic energy summary reports. Findings from pilot programs studied over the last several years prove stellar results including increased customer satisfaction and program participation. Another powerful statistic is Apogee’s outbound messaging is achieving click through rates more than 30 times the industry average.

One large investor-owned utility analyzed the effectiveness of energy summary reports with a control group of 40,000 participants. This group saw a 16% increase in customer satisfaction with no negative impact. Another pilot program featuring personalized video bill analysis, reported that 98% of the video recipients wanted to continue receiving the videos and 93% reported they felt this was an effective way of communicating why the utility bill changed from month to month.    

Studies also prove high bills generate more calls to the call center than outages; the Envoy solution includes threshold and mid-cycle alerts that put the customer in control of their energy use, and reduces utility operating costs. By proactively communicating with customers through text or email alerts gives them a chance to make a difference in behavior that impacts their bill before they make a call.

“Today’s energy customers are more demanding; they expect personalized, relevant digital engagement with the companies they do business with” stated Lynn England, V. P. of Customer Engagement, Apogee Interactive, “We are finding our early adopters are meeting and exceeding their goals using the Envoy platform,” he continued. “Successful utility professionals are embracing digital channels and realizing its impact on program participation, revenue generation, and cost reduction.”

Susan Gilbert, CEO & President of Apogee added, “Apogee’s energy modeling was RESNET rated at the highest “Home Rating” level and ranked most accurate by a sizeable margin.  This enables utilities to provide consistent, correct information across all communications channels while positioning utility providers as trusted source of energy information.”

JD Power reports in their 2017 Residential Utility Customer Satisfaction Study that digital communications between utilities and their customers has risen approximately 5% in the past year. JD Power also attributes higher customer satisfaction scores to multi-channel communications.

Apogee will formally unveil its outbound communications platform Envoy at the Association of Energy Service Professionals 2018 National conference in New Orleans, LA on February 19th.

About Apogee Interactive, Inc.

Apogee Interactive is nation’s leading full-service provider of proactive customer engagement software services for utilities. A partner with the utility industry since 1993, Apogee’s digital engagement platform delivers digital proactive, personalized communication to hundreds of North American utilities from coast to coast including some of the largest most progressive such as Southern Company (NYSE: SO), ConEd (NYSE: ED), PSEG (NYSE: PEG), and Tucson Electric Power (NYSE: TEP). For more information visit www.apogee.net  or LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/99046/

 Apogee Contact: Karen Morris – 678-684-6801 – kmorris@apogee.net

 

Tags:  Apogee Interactive  customer engagement digital  Customer EngagementResidential Programs 

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Daniel Merchant Joins E Source as Chief Customer Officer

Posted By Kym Wootton, Monday, February 12, 2018

E Source is excited to announce the hiring of Daniel Merchant as chief customer officer. In this role, Merchant will oversee all aspects of sales and customer success for the organization, which serves more than 300 electric and gas utilities and their partners each year.

The creation of a chief customer officer role at E Source highlights the company’s commitment to fostering a persistent organizationwide customer-first mentality. “We’re thrilled that Daniel has joined the E Source team,” says Wayne Greenberg, E Source CEO. “He has incredible experience as a sales leader, an innovative spirit, and a relentless focus on customers. We’re certain his involvement and leadership will result in a better member experience and a continually improving portfolio of products.”

Merchant is passionate about providing excellent customer service throughout the sales process and beyond. He has more than 30 years of experience in the energy industry, with a specialization in customer recruitment and retention. He held prior executive roles in the areas of customer service and client relations, business development, marketing, and operations at organizations including British Telecom, Green Mountain Power, AESP, CLEAResult, and most recently at his own company, Merchant Client Solutions. Over the past 20 years, Merchant has served as a volunteer and board member for the Ronald McDonald House Charities in Vermont and Texas. He holds a BS in chemical engineering from Clarkson University.

“E Source has an unmatched brand in the utility space, and I’m excited to help build on that already strong foundation,” says Merchant. “I’m looking forward to leveraging my experience and passion to help utilities evolve during this chaotic time in our industry.”

About E Source

For 30 years, E Source has been providing market research, data, and consulting services to more than 300 utilities and their partners. This guidance helps our customers advance their efficiency programs, enhance customer relationships, and use energy more efficiently.

Contact: Kym Wootton, Vice President of Marketing, E Source
Contact us
303-345-9168

 

Tags:  E Source  new hire 

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Apogee Interactive Celebrates 25 Years Serving the Energy Industry

Posted By Karen Morris, Thursday, February 1, 2018

Major Milestone of Innovation & Leadership 

As 2018 dawns, Apogee Interactive (AI), Inc. proudly enters its twenty-fifth year of service to the energy utility industry.  Part of that pride emanates from Navigant’s conclusion that Apogee was the most comprehensive energy-modeling software and services platform for customer engagement.  Founded in 1993 with the mission of leveraging new technologies to cost-effectively engage customers, the company today serves hundreds of utilities reaching millions of customers across the United States and Canada.  The proprietary modeling engine powering Apogee’s machine learning and business analytics engine has been RESNET accredited at the accuracy and HERS energy rating levels. 

“Providing utilities with multi-channel, consistent, accurate, and relevant energy information ensures customers stay engaged.” said Susan Gilbert, Apogee’s CEO & Co-Founder.  “Helping customers make better energy decisions positions the utility as a trusted information source.” she added.

Apogee’s name was chosen by its founders for its definition, “being on the edge,” and for the acronym AI, reflecting their pioneering vision for delivering practical and cost effective Artificial Intelligence.  Both have been hallmarks of Apogee’s accomplishments. 

Today, the software platform has grown to include residential and commercial energy analysis applications, personalized daily bill forecasts in a weather paradigm, and outbound communications strategies including energy summary reports, usage alerts, and personalized video bill analysis for utility customers, CSRs, and Field Auditors.  

Capping their quarter century of prolific innovation, Apogee’s two latest offerings are revolutionizing the way utilities interact with customers, leapfrogging the market.  First, the Home Intelligence (HI!) services consisting of devices, communication protocols, software and user interfaces, uses precision temperature monitoring to assess home and system health, communicating back to customers alerting them of impending issues or improved operations.  And their latest, the new Alexa skill for Amazon Echo reaches into the customer’s home providing bill explanation and coaching and personalized energy cost forecasts. 

About Apogee Interactive, Inc.

Apogee Interactive is nation’s leading full-service provider of proactive customer engagement software services for utilities. A partner with the utility industry since 1993, Apogee’s EMPOWER digital engagement platform delivers on-line and outbound proactive, personalized communication to consumers nationwide. The company’s digital reach extends through hundreds of utilities reaching nearly half of US households and businesses, increasing utility customer satisfaction and cutting costs. Apogee’s cloud-based, SaaS platform enables more meaningful customer engagement, proven sustainable energy results, and improved program performance for utilities.

Energy leaders who use Apogee tools include Southern Company (SO), ConEdison (ED), FPL, Lakeland Electric, Jackson EMC, NOVEC, American Electric Power (AEP), NSTAR (NST), PSEG (PEG), and many more. 

For more information visit www.apogee.net or LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/99046/   

Contact: Karen Morris, kmorris@apogee.net , 678-684-6801

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Tags:  Apogee Interactive 

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EMI Consulting Appoints Julie Rey as President

Posted By Lisa Perry, Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Global Consulting Executive to Drive Expansion of Company’s “Utility of the Future” Strategic Service Offerings and Market Share

 

SEATTLE, Wash. – January 31, 2018 – Energy advisory firm EMI Consulting today announced it has hired Julie Rey as president. Recognized for her expertise in driving business growth and supervising global consulting teams, Ms. Rey will be responsible for expanding EMI Consulting’s market share, deepening its strategic “Utility of the Future” service offerings, and managing the company’s growing staff.

“We’re pleased to have Julie join our leadership team,” said Rob Bordner, EMI Consulting founder and CEO. “It’s an exciting time for our industry. The nation’s energy future is in the middle of a radical shift driven by unprecedented technological innovation, global climate change, and geo-political uncertainty. We see this as a perfect opportunity for the expansion of our clean energy ‘Utility of the Future’ consulting initiatives. Julie’s leadership will be instrumental during this time of company growth.”

With a twenty-year track record of profitability, premier clients, and consulting bench strength, EMI Consulting is poised to achieve significantly greater success. As president, Ms. Rey will report to CEO Rob Bordner, joining him in defining the company’s long-term strategies and fostering efficient business growth. The creation of this position enables Mr. Bordner to focus on strategic market direction, high-level project conceptualization and design, and new business development.

“I’m excited about working with this visionary and talented team,” said Julie Rey, EMI Consulting president. “The company is well-known for its in-house strategic and analytical talent, depth of industry partnerships, cutting-edge technological expertise, and passion for delivering the best consulting experiences. Being able to lead the company to greater levels of growth is a fantastic opportunity.”

Ms. Rey was most recently vice president and market lead for global management consulting firm North Highland Consulting. Prior to that she held positions as managing director for Strong-Bridge Consulting, vice president/business process improvement for Safeco Insurance, and director/Six Sigma Black Belt for Western Wireless Corporation. She brings expertise in leading companies through substantial growth cycles, designing and streamlining service processes, advancing consulting methodologies for enhanced client experiences, training leaders, and improving profitability. Ms. Rey holds a master’s degree in organizational communication from the University of Washington, and bachelor’s degrees in rhetoric and Italian from the University of California at Davis.

 

About EMI Consulting
EMI Consulting advises electric and gas utilities nationwide on business strategies related to new market opportunities, distributed and renewable energy, energy efficiency, and customer engagement. Founded in 1995, the company is recognized for industry leadership in three key areas: strategy and evaluation, data analytics and modeling, and customer experience research. Headquartered in Seattle, the company also employs staff in Philadelphia, Minneapolis, Portland, and Los Angeles. More information is available at www.emiconsulting.com. 

 

###

 

Media Contact: Angie Min Emerson | (206) 621-1160 | aemerson@emiconsulting.com  

 

Tags:  New Hire  President 

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Energy Storage in the Northwest

Posted By Kathleen Humphrey, Thursday, January 25, 2018

Modern grid storage has evolved from dams and pumped hydroelectric storage to large stationary batteries and flywheels, and the conversion of heat or cold in to the form of hot water or ice.  Storage resources, in bulk or distributed form, are being used to smooth the variability of renewable resources, such as wind or solar power, and to smooth the variability of energy loads like interior space heating, ventilation, and air conditioning.

Even though hydroelectric dam storage has dominated the Northwest for many years, newer forms of storage, like battery storage, show significant potential for widespread and common use, especially combined with solar power for grid reliability and resilience. Globally, the focus is on battery systems as they continue to drop in price and hold more and more capacity. This focus is fueling a burgeoning storage market that offers significant capabilities with flexible control operations. Battery storage can be located on a distributed basis almost anywhere—from residential garages to commercial buildings to utility distribution and transmission substations, or even to turbine power plants to provide supplemental spinning reserves. As a result, the values that battery storage bring can be numerous, including allowing consumers a safe, environmentally friendly way to keep the lights on during Northwest storms, reducing a commercial facility’s spikes in demand charges, and meeting the grid’s peak load and oversupply needs.

The excitement and optimism for all forms of energy storage was extremely high and clearly evident among the participants of the Smart Grid Northwest Demand Response & Energy Storage Summit held September 27-28, 2017, in Portland, Oregon.

Download our white paper Energy Storage in the Northwest to learn some of the key topics policy makers and program/project decision makers should consider when looking into storage for an organization and roles storage advocates can play. 

Key topics from the paper include:
•The existing environment for energy storage in the Northwest
•Best practices for planning for storage
•Ways to build the business case for storage
•The balance between value-stacking and maintaining the longevity of battery systems

Download your copy: http://insights.cadmusgroup.com/energystoragenw 

Tags:  Cadmus  energy storage  northwest  smart grid 

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ENERGY EFFICIENCY EXPERTS OF TOMORROW SCHOLARSHIP NOW OPEN FOR APPLICATIONS

Posted By Jamie Delk, Thursday, December 7, 2017

Franklin Energy is pleased to announce this year’s Energy Efficiency Experts of Tomorrow scholarship program is now accepting applications. The leading national integrated demand side management program implementation firm’s scholarship is open November 16, 2017 and closes February 1, 2018.

As in previous years, the scholarship is open to all juniors and seniors who are currently enrolled at an accredited college or university with a declared major of either environmental science or engineering.

“Franklin Energy looks forward to the opportunity to support the next generation of demand side management experts,” said Kevin McDonough, Franklin Energy President. "These passionate students are crucial to the industry as they develop their skills and prepare to become the industry’s future.”

Four $5,000 scholarships will be rewarded to students selected by a non-biased third party panel. Students can find full requirements and application forms online.

Tags:  energy  Energy Efficiency  Energy Efficiency Experts of Tomorrow  Engineer  environmental science  Franklin Energy  Franklin Energy Services  Franklin Energy Services LLC  University of Pittsburgh 

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How to make your customer engagement POP…

Posted By Karen Morris, Monday, November 6, 2017

Today’s customer expects instant everything. Communications from the companies they know and do business with should be personal, timely, and relevant.  Forward thinking marketing and communications professionals also know an integrated marketing approach is most effective. Offering customers a choice through multiple channels gives the customer a sense of control, resulting in improved customer satisfaction and engagement.

Personal, Outbound, and Proactive (POP)

Forbes predicts that by 2020 82% of internet traffic will be video. That is up considerably from the current 69% in 2017. Including video in your communications mix is engaging and fun. Apogee’s personalized bill explanations are seeing extraordinary results with 98% of utility customers wanting to receive these communications regularly. What could be more relevant, and proactive? The videos explain in easy to understand terms why a bill has changed and offers a simple call to action designed for program promotion, surveys or just to encourage web traffic.

Today personalization means more than just adding first names.  Personalization is now defined as personalized content recommendations. Sending threshold alerts to customers demonstrates the power of outbound personalized and proactive communications. Letting a customer know when their bill is nearing a set amount mid-cycle then offering proactive recommendations on how save before the high bill drops. This enables the customer to take steps to manage their usage.

Energy summary reports are another way to engage energy customers with relevant information. In one control group, Apogee emailed summary reports to 40,000 customers. Among the group that received these reports, customer satisfaction increased by 16%.

What could be more relevant and personalized that your bill analysis, energy threshold alerts, or an energy summary report?

Recommendations for Success

1.      Provide information that addresses the customer benefits ahead of desired utility benefits.

2.      Include multiple outbound channels and tactics in your toolkit.

3.      Make customers feel valued by giving them relevant information they need.

 

In a recent study by Forrester, 68% of firms surveyed identified personalization as a priority. The days of sitting back hoping customers will visit your website are long gone as is blasting emails to thousands without targeting. Personal, outbound, and proactive messaging is a must if you want to get customers engaged and keep them engaged.

Digital engagement tools like online audits, video bill explanations, and text alerts are easy ways to communicate relevant, personal information. These should be essential elements of any utilities’ marketing toolkit. 

To learn more about ways to improve your customer engagement visit www.apogee.net or contact Karen Morris at info@apogee.net , 678-684-6801. 

Tags:  apogee Interactive  Customer Engagement Residential Programs  Energy Analysis 

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Apogee Interactive Announces Low Income Behavioral Program at BECC Conference

Posted By Karen Morris, Tuesday, October 17, 2017

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Atlanta, GA (October 17, 2017) Today in Sacramento, Jim Malcom, Apogee Executive Vice President, shared the firm’s new customer engagement solution for low income utility customers at the 8th annual Behavior, Energy & Climate Change Conference.  This growing segment is increasingly difficult and costly for utilities to engage and serve. They tend to be expensive to serve due to the number of times they call, the number of truck rolls associated with service interruptions, and their inability to pay their bills.  As a result, they also tend to be a drag on the customer service scores.

“These customers are not hard to identify, they are hard to engage and influence using traditional methods,” said Malcom.  “Apogee’s service reduces costs and increases customer satisfaction by making these customers aware of how they use energy, how they can control their energy bills, as well as making them aware of the payment options best aligned with how they are paid.”

Apogee’s groundbreaking behavioral solution, EPIC (Engagement Platform for Information and Communication), uses simple, timely, personalized, automated communication methods widely proven effective with the general population and customized to this segment’s special needs.

EPIC is targeted to mobile phone users and employs multiple channels including email, SMS/text, and social media.  The program approach is perfectly suited to the low-income trade allies and community agents including churches, non-profits, and community action agencies. This multi-channel strategy extends the reach and fills the gaps of traditional communication approaches.

According to Susan Gilbert, Apogee CEO, “Lower income customers spend a disproportionately large percentage of their paychecks on energy and create most of the billing and payment inquiries. Apogee customized our time-tested tools to proactively engage and assist these customers, demonstrating their energy provider cares while giving customers a sense of choice and control in their lives.”

Customers learn to manage their energy use, improve the comfort of their homes, and lower their bills, while utilities benefit through increased customer satisfaction and reduced costs to serve.

Contact kmorris@apogee.net for complete details of the presentation and how EPIC is enabling utilities to connect with and better serve their low-income customers.

Apogee Interactive, Inc.

Apogee Interactive is one of the nation’s leading providers of customer engagement software services for the energy industry. Partnering with utilities since 1993, Apogee’s digital engagement platform delivers proactive, personalized communication to consumers nationwide. Apogee’s proven SaaS platform enables more meaningful customer engagement, proven sustainable energy results, reduced operating costs and improved program performance for utilities. For more information, please visit www.apogee.net and follow on Linkedin and Twitter at @apoweb.

 

 

Tags:  Apogee Interactive  customer engagement  Customer Engagement Energy Efficiency  Customer Engagement Residential Programs 

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