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Today's Electricity Consumers Demand Personalization from Historically Impersonal Industry

Posted By Aaron Savatti, Monday, February 4, 2019

The Rise of Data and Digital Customer Services

For the past decade, electric utilities have been busy upgrading their operations with advanced meter infrastructure. Although customer acceptance of “smart’” technology has been mixed, there is now overwhelming evidence that technology is transforming how customers expect to be engaged. It should come as no surprise that technology is also redefining how utilities can engage with their customers. Moving beyond online bill pay, real-time consumption charting and a digital presence across social media platforms, utilities must now also consider an expanding array of digital customer services, often driven by artificial intelligence, to better communicate with their customers on an individual level and generally improve operations.

This new-wave of digital communication and personalization is not a moment too soon. Today’s customers expect that digital tools and processes will provide them with personalized access to information and services through their laptop, tablet, mobile device and even conventionally printed formats. These modern customer expectations are being provided for across virtually all industries today, and customers now expect the same level of interconnectivity and congruence from their utility services. Utilities must augment traditional customer communication methods with innovative technology solutions that help to personalize the customer experience while simultaneously improving the cost-effective delivery of kilowatts and other initiatives.

Over the last several years, I’ve had the opportunity to interact with utilities and their customers through a variety of mediums including online building assessments, site visits, building energy reports, and in-bound customer service queries. Based on the data collected through these interactions, there are a number of trends and findings that every electric utility should consider when planning their upcoming customer service delivery strategies, program and marketing campaigns, and even operational expenditures.

This article focuses on findings and trends in two main areas:

  1. How utilities should communicate with customers, and
  2. How utilities can personalize their communications
     

How Utilities Should Communicate

With so much emphasis placed on moving customer interactions to the digital realm, you may wonder if the sun is finally setting on conventional paper-based communications?

With most of the utilities I engage with, the percentage of customers that have an email address on file with the utility is less than 30 percent, which is undeniably low. This finding is echoed by a 2017 Accenture Report finding that “only 27 percent of energy consumers are active digital users. A third of energy consumers are still struggling with their experiences on their energy provider’s digital channels.” Meanwhile, a 2018 GSMA report on the mobile economy explains that smartphone penetration in North America is currently at 84 percent of the population indicating that the lack of digital customer engagement is likely not due to a lack of digital access, demographics, or even personal preferences.

With smartphone penetration in North America expected to continue growing through 2025 and digital engagement on the rise across all industries, it is hard to imagine that the majority of customers will continue to want to receive paper from their utility. Indeed, that day may already have come and gone. Another recent utility-focused study by Market Strategies International found more than 50 percent of customers would already prefer to engage with their utility digitally, but “only 33 percent of consumers recall any digital communication from their utility.” The Accenture Report found that 88 percent of customers were ready to engage digitally with their utility. The Accenture Report also outlined the myriad of benefits of a digital customer engagement strategy, including more than 50 percent reductions in customer service costs, lowering of operating expenses, and even improved productivity and innovation across the utility workforce.
 


  
Figure 1. Smartphone Penetration in North America

Note: Smartphone Penetration in North America continues to rise, supporting an increased appetite for digital content
Source: GSMA Intelligence 2018 
  

 


  
Figure 2. Customer Communication Preferences for Different Utility Initiatives

Note: Digital vs Direct Mail preferences can vary significantly, depending on content and customer motivations
Source: EnergyX Solutions Inc. 2018, sample size = 43k
  

In light of these trends and benefits, it is no wonder that other industries are pushing forward with digital transformations. Coleman Parkes, a UK based research firm, ranked industries’ efforts towards digital transformation on a scorecard and found utilities came in last out of 10 industry sectors examined. The leading industries according to the same scorecard were Telecom and Banking/Financial Services.

So, if customers are struggling to engage with their utility through digital channels, and utilities are struggling to find ways to boost digital engagement is there any hope of making progress? A recent program I was involved with indicates the answer can be a resounding “YES.” During a home energy assessment initiative in 2018, more than 100,000 households received home energy assessments and personalized home energy reports with the option to receive their report digitally via email or on paper via direct mail. During this engagement, we saw a complete reversal of digital engagement trends with more than 90 percent of program participants opting to receive their report digitally via email.

Reading between the lines, this speaks volumes to the perceived interest or value placed on typical utility communications and the customer’s motivation to engage with typical communications. There is an argument to be made that although the majority of utility customers continue to receive paper communications, they still aren’t as actively engaged as the customers that do engage digitally. For example, looking at site traffic referrals across digital platforms in Figure 3, the majority of traffic comes from digital leads such as social media, web-ads and referral landing pages. Similarly, the largest upticks in our site traffic occur after digital marketing campaigns and integrations with online utility “customer account pages" and partner websites.

Digital marketing and leads are key to helping customers engage with digital content, they also tend to be more cost-effective and trackable than direct marketing activities. (Note: direct traffic is comprised of in-person engagements, direct mailings, conventional marketing, radio ads, etc.)

So, the future, and the present, for that matter, are digital. But what should utilities be talking about with customers across their developing digital channels? Research indicates that personalization is key to effective communication with customers. And luckily, digital mediums offer unprecedented personalization at lower unit costs than paper or other conventional mediums.
 



Figure 3. Breakdown of Website Engagement Origin

Note: Digital marketing and leads are key to helping customers engage with digital content, they also tend to be more cost-effective and trackable than direct marketing activities. (Note: direct traffic is comprised of in-person engagements, direct mailings, conventional marketing, radio ads, etc.) 
Source: EnergyX Solutions Inc. 2018, sample size = 57k
  

How Utilities Can Personalize Communications

The starting point for electric utilities that seek to better understand and communicate with their customers is often consumption history. Information about the customer’s building can be just as informative, if not more so. Building data, such as building age, size and basic information about key equipment and appliances, can provide immediate insights into energy consumption patterns when analyzed through physics-based models or through machine learning algorithms.

Utilities have a strong use-case to collect building information directly from customers, and they are often able to learn a lot about a population in a relatively short amount of time. For example, building data collected over two months through an online building assessment was cross-referenced with actions taken to enroll in energy efficiency programs. When the data was sorted by region, a clear trend emerged: low participating regions had building stocks with a narrower age distribution across a more recent period, while high participating regions had a wider distribution of building ages with a significant number of older buildings.

Building data indicated a trend that older buildings were more likely to participate in energy efficiency programs.
 



Figure 4. Building Age Distributions for Regions with Low and High Program Participation

Note: Customer engagement can be significantly influenced by building stock and geography. Participation tends to be higher in areas where the building stock is older and more diverse
Source: EnergyX Solutions Inc. 2018, sample size = 100k
  

When the trend was applied in reverse, regions with older buildings were targeted with marketing campaigns to increase the likelihood of program enrollment, while simultaneously targeting older buildings with a higher average potential to reduce consumption. Relatively straight-forward initiatives like the example just provided indicate that data collected from customers can be used not only to personalize communications back to those same customers, but they can also uncover trends that facilitate more effective and personal communications with customers outside of the surveyed population.

From this example, we can also see that personalization isn’t limited to putting a customer’s name and address on every message. Simply including facts, or even suggestions, targeted to specific building types, customer personas or geographical areas dramatically increases resonance in a historically “one-size-fits-all” industry.

Building data can also be combined with consumption data to provide new insights into customer motivation. In this example, data from an online building assessment platform was analyzed to estimate the difference between the building’s current performance and a modern standard (i.e., annual energy-saving potential). Savings potential was then compared to average historical monthly energy bills provided by a utility partner.

Although the general population saw an increase in their maximum savings potential correlated with higher average monthly energy bills, the population that engaged with the program did not. The engaged population was characterized by an above-average savings potential, regardless of their current average bill amount, and the average annual savings of the engaged population was relatively flat. This indicates that targeting customers simply based on high consumption or high bills is not effective. Engaged customers are often looking for high return-on-investment or above average performance increases, which are not necessarily correlated with high energy bills.
 



Figure 5. Customer Communication Preferences for Different Utility Initiatives
 
Note: Engaged customers do not necessarily have higher energy bills, but they do have a higher savings potential on average. In this case, savings potential is determined by building characteristics and equipment that consume more energy than modern, efficient equivalents
Source: EnergyX Solutions Inc. 2018, sample size = 43k
  

In addition, building data provides some of the best insights into what topics, services, and energy products customers are most interested in. Customers tend to be most interested in products and services that are related to building features and equipment they currently have. The more unique the building feature or piece of equipment, the more likely a customer is to engage or convert on products and services related to that equipment. In another program, where digital home energy reports were sent to residential consumers, clicks on information regarding certain recommended building upgrades were tracked to reveal that the most infrequently recommended services often had some of the highest conversion rates. This indicates that utilities are likely to get the highest relative customer engagement on relatively “niche” topics; and conversely, attempting to engage customers on common or overly broad topics does not guarantee broad engagement or high conversion rates.

Conversion rates tend to increase for products and services that are recommended to fewer people. Products like attic insulation were recommended for more than 12 percent of a population, but only achieved conversion rates of less than 2 percent. Conversely, more specific improvement recommendations like tankless water heaters were recommended for less than 3 percent of a population, but achieved conversion rates of up to 5 percent.
 



Figure 6. Congruance of Recommendation and Conversion Rates for Energy Efficient Building Retrofits

Note: Conversion rates tend to increase for products and services that are recommended to fewer people. Products like attic insulation were recommended for more than 12 percent of a population, but only achieved conversion rates of less than 2 percent. Conversely, more specific improvement recommendations like tankless water heaters were recommended for less than 3 percent of a population, but achieved conversion rates of up to 5 percent. 
Source: Source: EnergyX Solutions Inc., sample size = 75k 
  

Final Takeaways

Digital communication strategies offer a host of information about customers that savvy organizations use to improve their service offerings, including the percentage of customers engaging via mobile devices, open and read rates for utility communications and conversion rates for utility services and programs. Building information provides deeper insights into building performance and predicted consumption patterns and can be a strong indicator of customer sentiment, engagement and action.

In conversation with utility executives and directors, it is apparent that gaining access to customer information is becoming a top business concern – and it is easy to see why. Customer service strategies, marketing decisions, program planning and even CapEx and OpEx planning are all influenced by our understanding of the customer base. As utility executives realize the growing importance of customer information as a planning resource, safeguarding and leveraging the customer resource is of increasing importance.

Modern digital communication strategies provide a number of mechanisms (e.g., email reporting, web analytics, digital ad stats, etc.) for utilities to collect customer feedback and create conversations with customers. Furthermore, the available options for digital communication channels continue expanding through the popularization of chatbots, artificial intelligence, tracking pixels and advanced customer profiling. As the cutting-edge advances, the utility’s objectives in building out new digital strategies and communication channels to improve personalization in a historically impersonal industry have never been more achievable. And, if all that wasn’t enough, customers simply want a more personal, accessible experience with their utility.

In a time of unprecedented change, where we see consumer choice growing exponentially as new technologies come to market with increasing speed, utility executives have already started asking whether they can afford NOT to make the transition to a more accessible and personal relationship with their customers. With this outlook, the quest to better understand and communicate with the customer becomes an important part of every utility’s near- and long-term planning.
 

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Tags:  AESP One To Watch  Customer Engagement  digital engagement  Energy Efficiency  EnergyX 

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New Navigant report: Bring Your Own Device DSM Programs for Utilities and Retail Energy Suppliers

Posted By Brett Feldman, Thursday, November 8, 2018

Bring Your Own Device DSM Programs for Utilities and Retail Energy Suppliers: Smart Thermostats, Hot Water Heaters, and Appliances, Energy Storage, and EVs and EV Supply Equipment: Global Market Analysis and Forecasts

https://www.navigantresearch.com/reports/bring-your-own-device-dsm-programs-for-utilities-and-retail-energy-suppliers

The global electric power industry is shifting away from centralized power generation toward a mix of distributed energy resources (DER) and smart energy management solutions. Known as the Energy Cloud, this shift positions the bring your own device (BYOD) market to allow customers to take advantage of a diverse range of smart, grid-interactive technologies. Such solutions enable customers to manage their energy consumption while maintaining optimal comfort.

BYOD refers to utility and non-utility programs that allow customers to purchase their own pre-approved, grid-responsive devices from a vendor. Customers can integrate the technology into demand response (DR) or energy efficiency programs managed through the utility, an energy supplier, or a third-party systems integrator. Three fundamental shifts are taking place as BYOD programs continue to grow across North America and enter markets worldwide. First, devices beyond thermostats are increasingly communicating with the electric power grid. BYOD broadens the range of consumer technologies eligible to participate in programs. Second, the broader BYOD programs are exploring the energy efficiency applications of bring your own thermostat (BYOT) programs. Third, BYOD programs are expanding to include retail choice electricity suppliers in deregulated markets and energy service providers.

This Navigant Research report examines the global BYOD market, with a focus on smart thermostats, hot water heaters and appliances, energy storage, EVs, and EV supply equipment. The report explores the market issues related to BYOD devices, including drivers, barriers, and trends, to highlight regional activities and programs. Global market forecasts, segmented by device type and region, extend through 2027. The report also analyzes utility and non-utility BYOD business models and shares case studies of BYOD programs incorporating various technologies in North America.

Tags:  customer engagement  DERs  Distributed Energy Resources  DSM  Energy Efficiency 

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Nexant Sets Industry Milestone for Rebate Processing and Customer Service

Posted By Katy McSurdy, Friday, October 19, 2018

99% of rebate applications processed in less than one week, industry-leading 5-second average speed of answer

SALT LAKE CITY, UT, October 18, 2018—Nexant’s Rebate Processing and Customer Care Center set an industry milestone in 2018 by processing and fulfilling 99% of utility program rebate applications in less than one week, dramatically reducing the industry standard processing time of 6-8 weeks. Nexant is working closely with multiple utility clients to achieve same-day application processing for post-purchase customer programs including residential, low income, upstream, business, small business, retro-commissioning, and new construction.

Nexant’s Rebate Processing and Customer Care Center in Salt Lake City has developed smart processes using Nexant’s iEnergy software platform to enable efficient onboarding for new utility programs; rapid deployment of processing, call center, and check issuance services; and an environment of continuous improvement. As a result, Nexant is now providing an unprecedented level of service for 26 utility partners, and 77 customer facing programs.

“We recently began work with three new utility customers based on our industry-leading proficiency and the expertise of our Salt Lake City team,” said Brad Pierce, Vice President of Utility Services. Nexant has significantly increased staff for call center and customer care services to support new utility clients, and expects total growth to be over 40% by the end of the year.

“We are very excited to offer industry-leading performance in rebate management, application processing, and call center services to utility clients. Enhancing and strengthening engagement with customers on behalf of utilities is a strategic, long-term focus for Nexant. Utilities that employ our software platforms and the Rebate Processing and Customer Care Center in Salt Lake City benefit from rapid rebate payment timelines, nearly instantaneous access to live representatives, and improved customer satisfaction,” said John Gustafson, CEO of Nexant.

Nexant’s iEnergy software platform, rebate management, and customer care services range from concierge-level customer service to energy program outreach, feedback surveys, and application processing and assistance. Nexant maintains call services in excess of industry standards and provides a 5-second average speed of answer and less than 2% abandon rate across all customer service queues.

About Nexant

Nexant is a premier provider of technology enabled solutions to the Utility and Energy Industry focused on the next generation intelligent grid, distributed energy resources, and the digital customer experience. Operating from 25 offices in the U.S., Europe, the Middle East, and Asia, the company's team of industry professionals has completed more than 5,000 engagements in over 70 countries. Nexant’s customers include over 120+ utilities, energy organizations, and transmission and distribution system operators. We work with 50+ iEnergy software customers and 300+ chemical and petroleum majors, financial institutions, and Fortune 500 companies. If you would like more information about this topic, please call Clair Sweeney at 801.639.5601 or email at csweeney@nexant.com. www.nexant.com

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Tags:  call center  customer experience  Energy Efficiency  press release 

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Blue Line Innovations announces the EnergyCloud skill for Amazon Alexa.

Posted By Steve Dodds, Friday, August 31, 2018

August 13th, 2018, Ottawa, Canada – Blue Line Innovations, a leader in innovative home energy management is pleased to announce the release of the EnergyCloud skill for Amazon Alexa.

Alexa is a cloud-based voice service from Amazon. Alexa is the brain behind Amazon Echo and other Alexa-enabled devices. Using Alexa is as simple as asking a question—just ask, and Alexa will respond instantly.

Making Energy Monitoring Easier – Using the EnergyCloud skill for Amazon Alexa enables users to easily and conveniently access their real-time electricity consumption status with simple phrases like “Alexa ask EnergyCloud how much electricity I’m using”.  Combined with the simple and cost-effective Do-It-Yourself EnergyCloud hardware, consumers can now get convenient, real-time access to their electricity usage information rather than wait for their electricity bill to arrive.

According to Blue Line’s President & CTO, Gerry O’Brien ….. “Our goal is to make energy monitoring as easy and convenient as possible and the key is to provide users with interfaces that are natural and that provide the important information they need quickly.  Our EnergyCloud skill for Amazon Alexa does just that.  Now, in just seconds, EnergyCloud users can keep informed about their electricity consumption and how much it is costing them.”

Alexa users can find the EnergyCloud skill in the Skills section of the Alexa app.

 

About Blue Line Innovations;

Founded in 2004, Blue Line is a leader in innovative home energy management providing the best user engagement driven by real-time energy consumption information. With over 350,000 home installations across 100+ Utilities in North America, Blue Line is an established and proven provider of industry leading technology for home energy management.

 

Contact:

Steve Dodds 

VP, Sales and Business Development  sdodds@bluelineinnovations.com

Mobile: (613) 583-4679

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Tags:  Energy Efficiency  Energy Management 

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Blue Line Innovations unveils the next generation of EnergyCloud.

Posted By Steve Dodds, Friday, August 31, 2018

 August 8th, 2018, Ottawa, Canada – Blue Line Innovations, a leader in innovative home energy management, has unveiled its innovative next generation EnergyCloud platform for the residential and light commercial markets. The patented solution provides anywhere, anytime, relevant, real time energy consumption information and provides whole home and appliance level reporting. The meter agnostic, universal, solution provides ultimate flexibility working on mechanical, digital and smart meters.

Easy to Install, Low Cost Solution - Unlike other products in the industry, Blue Line’s EnergyCloud solution is truly an easy, Do-It-Yourself installation and does not require an electrician. This cuts the total cost of ownership to less than half of other competitor’s products and provides a much faster return on investment (ROI).

Flexibility and Simplicity – The EnergyCloud Meter Sensor is meter agnostic and autosenses meter types while providing very granular data (15-second) and enables advanced applications such as non-intrusive load monitoring (NILM). There is no wiring required into the home’s electrical panel and the guided DIY installation is enabled by continuous health/status reporting. 

Web, Mobile, Voice Enabled and Secure – EnergyCloud provides a flexible user interface including “Just Ask Amazon Alexa” certification and secure, standards-based, API’s allowing integration with 3rd party services while providing over-the-air product updates designed for future proofing. 

Blue Line’s President and CTO, Gerry O’Brien comments……”Our number one objective is to provide users with the real time information they need to make informed energy usage decisions to help them save money.  Increasing the level and quality of user engagement makes this possible. We believe that making this information accessible in a manner that is convenient for the user is key to overall adoption and ultimately, success.”

 

About Blue Line Innovations;

Founded in 2004, Blue Line is a leader in innovative home energy management providing the best user engagement driven by real-time energy consumption information. With over 350,000 home installations across 100+ Utilities in North America, Blue Line is an established and proven provider of industry leading technology for home energy management.

 

Blue Line’s next generation of EnergyCloud is now available for immediate shipment. 

For more information, please visit www.bluelineinnovations.com.

 

Contact:

Steve Dodds 

VP, Sales and Business Development  sdodds@bluelineinnovations.com

Mobile: (613) 583-4679

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Tags:  Energy Efficiency  Energy Management 

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Apogee Shares Wonders of Personalized Video Messaging

Posted By Karen Morris, Monday, June 18, 2018

Municipals Embrace New Digital Engagement Methods

 

For Immediate Release:

Atlanta, GA – Jun. 19, 2018, Today at the American Public Power Association (APPA) National Conference in New Orleans attended by more than 1200 municipal utility professionals, Apogee Interactive, Inc. shared the results of four years’ experience sending millions of personalized video messages to utility customers.  Apogee is the newest addition to the Hometown Connections Partnership, and was invited to share what they do for hundreds of US utilities.  The firm was honored at a Hometown Connections Partnership appreciation breakfast on Tuesday morning.

According to Susan Gilbert, the firm’s CEO and co-founder, “Use of this type of messaging is exploding as utilities are finding customers love receiving them. Feedback is overwhelmingly positive.  One general manager of a North Carolina utility shared with us a voice mail recording from a customer raving about receiving one, saying, ‘We’re used to getting customer high bill complaints, but this is a first getting a high bill compliment!’”  The caller was referring to the video bill explanation she had received and wanted to express her gratitude for having it explained that the higher bill was due to it being 10 degrees colder and there being additional days in the billing period. 

According to Apogee’s experience and studies, other proven benefits of personalized video messaging include:

  • 15x higher email click through rates than industry standards
  • Proven reduced calls to the contact center
  • 58% improved perception of their utility
  • Double digit improvement in customer satisfaction
  • Increased program participation
  • Improved program targeting

Gilbert added, “Customers often don’t know they are served by their city and don’t know the advantages that offers them.”  That observation led to Apogee producing a Welcome Series of personalized videos.  “Upon establishing new service, customers receive a personalized video letting them know the benefits of being served by the city and that additional videos will be coming to help them understand their bills and available programs,” she continued.  Subsequent videos are triggered when billing or usage data signals there maybe a problem or an opportunity to participate in a program matching their usage profile.

The cost-effectiveness of this new communication method is a major factor in its success.  Apogee developed a technique for delivering personalized messages at costs a fraction of alternative messaging methods.

 

About Apogee Interactive:

Apogee Interactive is the nation’s leading full-service provider of proactive customer engagement software services for utilities. Serving the utility industry since 1993, Apogee’s digital engagement platform is used by hundreds of North American utilities from coast to coast, including some of the largest and most progressive, such as Southern Company, Lakeland Electric, and Jackson EMC. For more information visit www.apogee.net  or on LinkedIn.

Media Contact: Karen Morris, info@apogee.net or 678-684-6801

Tags:  #PublicPower  Apogee Interactive  customer engagement  Energy Efficiency  Residential Programs 

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Nexant successfully completes USAID Technical Assistance Program in India

Posted By Katy McSurdy, Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Nexant successfully completes USAID Technical Assistance Program in India

Creates strong ecosystem for clean energy

SAN FRANCISCO, CA, June 5, 2018— Nexant, a global provider of technology enabled solutions to the Utility and Energy industries, announced today that it has successfully completed the six-year bilateral Partnership to Advance Clean Energy – Deployment Technical Assistance (PACE-D TA) Program funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the U.S. Department of State.

The PACE-D TA Program focused on deploying and scaling up energy efficiency, renewable energy, and cleaner fossil technologies through enabling policy and regulatory frameworks, institutional strengthening, pilot projects, business models, and capacity building of key stakeholders.

“We’re thrilled to be making a difference, bringing clean energy to India, and other countries around the world. Nexant’s Government Services group is dedicated to helping developing countries with access to affordable electricity and establishing the building blocks to a sustainable future,” said John Gustafson, CEO of Nexant.

The PACE-D TA Program facilitated nearly 585 MW of renewable energy and leveraged nearly $780 million USD of investment for clean energy in India. The interventions such as interconnection frameworks and standardized bid documents have put in place simple and transparent processes that can be leveraged by stakeholders beyond the Program’s duration.

“The PACE-D TA Program was initially for five years but the work done under the Program was highly valued by India’s Ministry of New and Renewable Energy. Consequently, the Program was extended by one year to assist eight new states to scale up solar rooftops,” said Matthew Mendis, Senior Vice President, Government Services, Nexant.

One key outcome of the Program was standardized curriculum and training through a network of partner institutions. The Nexant team organized over 200 training workshops to build the capacity of key stakeholders on microfinance, smart grid, and solar rooftop. A skilled workforce will help India design, implement, and monitor its clean energy programs efficiently.

“Proof of concept is critical for emerging technologies. The Nexant team supported nearly 20 pilot projects demonstrate the technical and financial viability of clean energy technologies such as smart grid, solar rooftop, solar irrigation, net zero energy buildings and microfinance,” said Matthew Mendis, Senior Vice President, Government Services, Nexant.

Senior USAID and Government of India officials celebrated the achievements of the PACE-D TA Program at a special event in New Delhi on May 17, 2018.

With the closure of the PACE-D TA Program, Nexant has successfully completed its fifth USAID program in the Indian sub-continent, which included South Asia Regional Initiative (SARI) I and II from 2000-2005. We focused on energy development and encouraging the cooperation and trade in energy resources among countries in South Asia.

### Nexant provides technology enabled solutions to the Utility and Energy Industry focused on the next generation intelligent grid, distributed energy resources, and the digital customer experience. Operating from 20 offices in the U.S., Europe, the Middle East, and Asia, the company's team of industry professionals has completed more than 5,000 engagements in over 70 countries. Its clients include major utilities, transmission and distribution system operators, chemical and petroleum majors, financial institutions, and Fortune 500 companies.

If you would like more information about this topic, please call Josh Johnson at 801.904.9678 or jjohnson@nexant.com.

 

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Tags:  building codes  Clean Energy  DSM  Energy Efficiency  Nexant  renewable 

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Enhance the Experience Improve the Brand

Posted By Karen Morris, Monday, June 4, 2018

Xcel Energy is enhancing their customers’ experience and improving their brand perception all while reducing calls to the call center. It all started with their interest in the impacts of Personalized Video Messaging.  How would receiving a personalized, relevant, timely, and useful message affect a customer’s perception of the utility?  Impact the call center?  Influence digital customer engagement? Drive program participation?

How’d They Do That?

During a recent pilot, Apogee analyzed 500,000 Xcel customer’s billing histories to find the best candidates for various programs. By analyzing billing histories, Apogee identified customers most

suitable for HVAC retrofit programs and behavioral targets for refrigerator programs or programmable thermostats, enabling the messaging to be relevant to each customer.

The pilot was designed to test personalized outbound video messaging, specifically looking at customer’s perception of the utility, impact on click-through rates, ongoing digital engagement, program participation, and impacts to the call center. Treatment and control groups were established to measure how customers responded to the messaging.

Over the 4-month pilot, 120,000 emails were sent to test the reaction to several types of video messaging.

  1. Pre-heating season video,
  2. Personal video bill explanation,
  3. Personalized annual summary report video, and
  4. Email message with an online energy audit offer.

Results are In!

The pilot revealed that 89% of Xcel customers thought the videos were very or somewhat useful with 92% giving encouraging feedback. The video bill explanation went only to customers whose bills had increased by more than $20, and each quantified and explained the factors causing the bill to be higher (weather, days of service, rate change, behavior). Of the recipients reporting, 58% reported improved perception of the utilities brand. The personalized email inviting customers to fill out a home profile to receive a free online energy audit allowed Xcel to collect more home profiles and this data is now available for Xcel to use to further customize messages for future campaigns.

Much to our surprise, throughout the pilot, click-through rates (CTRs) increased on each distribution from Xcel’s average CTR baseline of 3% to 5% for the first, to 14% for the second, to 16% on the third distribution, a 5x increase from baseline. In addition, compared to the control group, customers in the treatment group showed fewer contact center calls.

In conclusion, greater, ongoing customer digital-engagement was proven using this method and at costs of only pennies a message. Xcel’s pilot goes to scale for all jurisdictions beginning on summer 2018 where 9 million messages will be sent in 6 different events.

learn more at www.apogee.net

 

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

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Navigant Research Report Shows Global Spending on Customer Engagement Through Demand Side Management (DSM) is Expected to Reach $1.1 Billion by 2027

Posted By Brett Feldman, Thursday, May 31, 2018

Navigant Research Report Shows Global Spending on Customer Engagement Through Demand Side Management (DSM) is Expected to Reach $1.1 Billion by 2027

To enhance competitiveness and meet customer expectations of new technologies, utilities and retail suppliers should invest in customer-centric DSM products

A new report from Navigant Research examines the global market for customer engagement through DSM (CEDSM), providing market forecasts for spending segmented by region, through 2027.

As customer expectations grow for new technologies, so does the market for CEDSM products, making it easier for utilities and retail suppliers to engage with them. However, uncertainty in the long-term cost-effectiveness of these solutions remains a barrier to global adoption, in addition to region-specific competitiveness of a deregulated energy supply market. Click to tweet: According to a new report from @NavigantRSRCH, global spending on CEDSM is expected to reach $1.1 billion by 2027.

“Because of the changes in consumer expectations, utilities and retail suppliers are seeking DSM software solutions that can lower the cost-to-serve and improve customer satisfaction and engagement,” says Brett Feldman, principal research analyst with Navigant Research.

According to Navigant, to enhance CEDSM competitiveness and customer acceptance, utilities and service providers should focus on combining budgets and revenue streams to cover costs, transition to newer business models while complementing existing DSM programs rather than replacing them, and offering accurate building energy use models to build customer trust.

This report, Utility Customer Engagement through DSM, examines the global CEDSM market, with a focus on market drivers and barriers, case studies, and forecasts for residential and commercial and industrial (C&I) CEDSM spending. The study examines the trends related to CEDSM to highlight regional activities and approaches to behavioral DSM and utility marketplaces. Global market forecasts for spending, broken out by segment and region, extend through 2027. The report also profiles key CEDSM solutions providers and provides recommendations for utilities, retail suppliers, and vendors that aim to enhance CEDSM effectiveness.

Contact: Stefanie Bradtner
+49.221.270.70.142
stefanie.bradtner@navigant.com

* The information contained in this press release concerning the report, Utility Customer Engagement through DSM, is a summary and reflects Navigant Research’s current expectations based on market data and trend analysis. Market predictions and expectations are inherently uncertain and actual results may differ materially from those contained in this press release or the report. Please refer to the full report for a complete understanding of the assumptions underlying the report’s conclusions and the methodologies used to create the report. Neither Navigant Research nor Navigant undertakes any obligation to update any of the information contained in this press release or the report.

Tags:  Behavioral  customer engagement  customer engagement digital  Customer Engagement Energy Efficiency  Customer Engagement Residential Programs  Customer EngagementResidential Programs  customer satisfaction  digital engagement  DSM  Energy Efficiency  energy efficiency programs 

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EMI CONSULTING NAMES WIL MARQUARDT DIRECTOR OF FINANCE AND OPERATIONS

Posted By Lisa Perry, Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Seattle, WA (April 17, 2018) – EMI Consulting is pleased to announce the appointment of Wil Marquardt as Director of Finance and Operations. He will be responsible for driving financial strategy, planning, and processes, as well as business operations as an integral part of the company’s growth strategy.

 

Prior to joining EMI Consulting, Wil held senior consulting positions at SumBridge, Strong-Bridge, and Two Degrees consulting firms, and he’s worked with companies as varied as Starbucks and T-Mobile. While the common thread in these engagements was primarily finance and operational management, Wil has also applied his skillset to the leadership of customer experience and technology initiatives. He also held tenure as Vice President at Washington Mutual, where he was charged with several business-imperative directives, including operational excellence and long-term forecasting.

 

“Wil’s deep and varied background creates the perfect blend of financial acumen and operational experience needed to help grow and sustain our firm,” explained EMI Consulting President Julie Rey. “His experience as a consultant also brings an understanding of the unique pressures of the space, which I believe is vital for this role.”  

 

Julie added, “Wil is also an approachable and well-respected person, who has a passion for the environment, which aligns well with our desire to cultivate a Utility of Future initiative.”

 

In fact, Wil chose the University of Washington for his MBA specifically for their concentration in environmental management. He explained, "I chose my MBA concentration because environmental sustainability is important to me, and I genuinely believed my career would eventually intersect.”

 

“EMI Consulting is in a really strong position – there is significant change stirring in the industry, great business opportunities, and this very committed and talented group of people I get to work alongside will help to realize the goals of a sustainable, clean energy future for utilities and their customers,” said Wil. “I am thrilled to use my background and experience to help drive important growth goals and set the company on course for long-term financial success.”

 

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.  

 

Contact:

Wil Marquardt

(206) 621-1160

wmarquardt@emiconsulting.com

 

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Tags:  Consultant  Consulting  Director  Energy Efficiency  Finance  New Hire 

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