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Apogee Announces Enhancements to Engagement Platform

Posted By Karen Morris, Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Apogee Addresses Utility Clients’ Needs in New Feature Pack

Atlanta, GA September 5, 2018, Apogee Interactive’s Chief Technology Officer, Jim Albert, announced today that his team is releasing new, cutting-edge features that enhance and expand Apogee’s current software offerings. This feature pack release will be available to existing and new clients on September 25, 2018.  New features help utilities address today’s most challenging topics, including communicating solar options, net metering, electric vehicles, new rate structures, and adding more personalized videos to the outbound messaging platform.

Mr. Albert explained, “Apogee knows the energy industry.  We listen intently to our clients’ needs.” He added, “Issues around community solar, electric vehicles, and communicating new rates have been top of mind this year, and the success of Personal Video Messaging has led to an explosive expansion of our video library.”

Apogee will share details of the of the 2018 feature pack in a series of webinars on September 25th and 27th.  

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 comprehensive 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  or on LinkedIn.


 Media Contact: Karen Morris, 678-684-6801 or

Tags:  Apogee Interactive  Customer Engagement  Customer Engagement Energy Efficiency  Electric Vehicles  Residential Programs  Solar 

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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  or on LinkedIn.

Media Contact: Karen Morris, or 678-684-6801

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

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Turning High Bill Complaints into High Bill Compliments

Posted By Karen Morris, Thursday, May 10, 2018

Tri-County EMC Raises the Bar on Digital Engagement with Apogee’s Envoy Platform

Turning High Bill Complaints into High Bill Compliments

For Immediate Release

May 10, 2018 - Atlanta GA, - Today at National Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s (NRECA) Connect Conference in Salt Lake City, UT, Apogee Interactive’s Sr. Account Manager, Cindy Smallwood, and Tri-County EMC’s, Manager of Marketing and Member Services, Bob Kornegay, shared their case study highlighting the stunning success of Tri-County EMC’s outbound communications strategy using Apogee’s ENVOY digital engagement platform. NRECA’s annual Connect Conference draws more than 600 utility professionals from cooperatives across the US. The conference agenda focuses on best practices in marketing, communications, member services, and the latest energy innovations and technologies.

“I am not surprised Bob Kornegay is an early adopter of our personalized video bill solution. He is dedicated to raising the bar on member engagement and providing the best resources for his members,” said Cindy Smallwood, Apogee Interactive.

Mr. Kornegay began planning Tri-County EMC’s new engagement strategy in May of 2017. Today he is sending personalized video bill messages to his members with sustained open rates of 50% and click through rates of 25%. These numbers reflect a 10 times increase over energy industry standards.

Kornegay said, “When I receive a call from a member thanking me for sending a notice that their bill will be higher than normal, I know we are on the right track.” He added, “Cooperatives shouldn’t fear engaging with members through multiple communications channels, our members want to hear from us and when the message is relevant, proactive, and personal our member satisfaction rises.”

Listen to Tri-County EMC’s HIGH BILL COMPLIMENT!

Apogee’s outbound communications platform includes energy summary reports, personal video bill explanations, energy alerts, and emails. Apogee’s clients using these methods are achieving extraordinary results that include increased satisfaction scores and reduced calls to the call center across the board.

About Apogee Interactive:

Apogee Interactive is a woman-owned business and is the nation’s leading full-service provider of proactive customer engagement software services for utilities. As a partner with the utility industry since 1993, Apogee’s digital engagement platform delivers digital proactive and personalized digital communication to 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 or LinkedIn:

About Tri-County EMC:

Tri-County EMC is a non-profit rural electric utility cooperative. We were chartered on May 8th, 1940, by way of the Rural Electrification Act and have since been an affiliate of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. We provide safe, efficient electric energy to our members of Wayne, Duplin, Lenoir, Johnston, Jones, Sampson and Wilson counties. Tri-County EMC is a member-driven cooperative committed to providing reliable electric power at a reasonable cost, to offering superior service, and to taking an active role in supporting the communities it serves.

Contact: Karen Morris, Apogee Interactive, 678-684-6800 or


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Tags:  Apogee Interactive  corporate communications  customer engagement  Residential Programs 

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Managing Pre-Paid Customers | 5 Lessons Utilities Can Learn from Telecom

Posted By Karen Morris, Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Managing Pre-Paid Customers | 5 Lessons Utilities Can Learn from Telecom


Jim Malcom, Executive VP, CFO Apogee Interactive, Inc.


On a recent webinar that drew more than 100 registrants, it became clear that energy companies are struggling with pre-paid service offerings just as the telecommunications industry did many years ago. Spending more than half of my career focused on finance in the telecom industry and now focused on the energy industry, there are many lessons to be learned from telecom about managing pre-paid customers.


My career in telecom began with a family owned payphone service when selling pre-paid long distance cards was a way to increase revenue and leverage location relationships. Moving on to senior management for Ernst & Young, managing telecommunications, I observed major telecom carriers experimenting with pre-pay offerings. Finally, I joined PowerTel as Treasurer and then LecStar as CFO; both companies had significant pre-paid customer bases. Over the course of a decade, I watched the telecom companies evolve as they tackled the challenges of pre-paid services.


Here’s what utilities can learn from Telecom


Rule #1 Payment Network


Utilities must make it easy for customers to locate authorized payment centers and offer payment options, cash being the most crucial. Pre-paid customers are frequently underbanked and make multiple cash transactions during a billing period. Keys to success include:


·         Have a robust network of authorized payment centers.

·         Avoid unauthorized payment centers where hidden fees apply.

·         Accept payment options, cash, check, credit cards.


Rule #2 Reduce Call Volume

Pre-paid customers check their account balance many times during a month, possibly daily. This drives up call volume so, with a customer service call averaging $5.00, utilities should consider ways to avoid calls. Some smart choices are:  


·         Leverage a caller ID system that prompts the IVR to play the current balance.

·         Designate and train CSRs to handle pre-paid customer calls.

·         Cost effective text alert solutions are available through Apogee that push account information.

·         Offer a pre-paid customer portal that includes balance information.

·         Apogee offers an energy forecasting application that can be incorporated into a portal clearly displaying the cost of energy in relation to the 5-day weather forecast.


Rule #3 Discovery of Unwritten Rules

Pre-paid customers will discover the unwritten rules; working rules to their advantage to the extent of using them as a budgeting tool by making minimum payments to reach the cut off thresholds.

Does your utility have rules about?

·         Shutting down a customer after a certain time of day or late on a Friday?

·         During bad weather?


Rule #4 No Demand Elasticity

Demand elasticity is a macro-economic principal. For instance, when gas is cheap, consumers drive more and purchase less fuel-efficient vehicles resulting in increased spending for fuel. The opposite is true when gas prices increase.

Powertel tried to entice customers to increase their monthly wireless spend. They concluded that prepaid customers would only spend a set amount regardless of the price per minute. Therefore, there is no demand elasticity for prepaid services.

If a utility has a prepaid EE program, customers are not likely to change their spending pattern regardless of the price of a kWh.  

Rule #5 Lower Monthly Spend

PowerTel, found prepaid customers spent approximately 10 to 15% less than post-paid customers.



  • They are more budget conscious and have limited funds to spend on any service.
  • They make purchasing decisions every time they replenish their prepaid account.

Based on a February 2016 study by DEFG (Distributed Energy Financial Group), prepaid electric customers exhibit similar spending patterns to the Powertel findings.

In conclusion, though pre-paid customers are a challenge and costly to manage, understanding their profile and adjusting business practices to accommodate them will improve your success. From the telecom pioneers we know, customers are more likely to be cash basis payers making frequent, small payments. They are likely to have their electric service temporarily disconnected, working unwritten rules to their advantage. They are hyperaware of their energy spend and are not likely to increase their energy use.


About the Author

Jim Malcom, Chief Financial Officer and EVP of APOGEE Interactive, Inc., brings more than 25 years in corporate finance and accounting to Apogee, which began with the firms KPMG and Ernst & Young in Atlanta. He has held senior posts as chief financial officer, corporate controller, vice president and treasurer for such area companies as Heidelberg USA, LecStar Telecom and Powertel.

Jim is a graduate of the University of Georgia with a bachelor's and master's degree in business administration, a certified public accountant, and a chartered global management accountant.


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Tags:  apogee Interactive  customer engagement  energy bills  low income  Pre-paid programs  Residential Programs 

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Movin’ On Up(stream): Utility Water Heater Programs

Posted By Mark Gentry, Thursday, March 23, 2017

Electric water heaters represent a significant untapped energy savings opportunity for utility retail programs. Driving higher market penetration of efficient water heaters is particularly important as other sources of savings in the residential sector sunset. However, consumers virtually never proactively seek an energy-efficient water heater. Roughly 90 percent of water heater purchases are related to external circumstances (e.g., emergency replacement, remodeling, new home), and 72 percent of consumers shop at just one store before making a purchase.

Since most residential customers are not actively searching for high-efficiency water heaters, they are not prepared to buy one when it fails. Those that do purchase incentive-eligible equipment often have high rebate breakage rates, forgoing the extra steps of submitting rebate forms after their equipment is installed.

With low market penetration and underperforming water heater rebates, how can utilities convert these panicked product buying cycles into long-lasting program savings that improve customer satisfaction?

An upstream model overcomes some of the challenges and realities of downstream and midstream retail approaches by shifting the incentive from the customer to the manufacturer, while still putting some money back in the customer’s pocket. New upstream program designs emphasize strong manufacturer relationships and easy transfer of data, so utilities can still gain insights into their customers’ actions and adoption of products.

In close collaboration with retailers, upstream programs incent manufacturers to influence both the prices and market availability of efficient water heaters. This drives more high-efficiency equipment into the market while making them more price-competitive with non-efficient alternatives. In a typical scenario, an efficient water heater could save a household of four about $3,500 over the lifetime of the equipment compared to a standard electric heater, with an average payback period of only two years. So customers can invest in energy efficiency today and enjoy the savings tomorrow.

With the right program design, utilities can persuade customers to purchase cost-effective, efficient water heaters and secure savings, enabling rapid market transformation across the supply chain.

Upstream Retail Water Heater Programs

Laying the groundwork with water heaters today will have benefits beyond energy efficiency tomorrow. Water heaters are no longer just a collection of metal containers and pipes. Many are becoming increasingly ‘smart’ and connected, which opens additional opportunities for utilities to have a continuous dialogue with their customers, such as engaging them in demand response programs and educating them on energy saving opportunities. This type of connectivity and increased customer adoption can also proactively alert customers of issues and diagnose them ahead of failure, breaking the cycle of emergency replacements (one example can be found here).

What do you think of upstream water heater retail programs and how they are being leveraged by utilities? If you have any questions or thoughts we’d love to hear from you – reach out to us today.

Read more:

1 How to Increase the Market Penetration of HPWH
2 Save Money and More with ENERGY STAR® Certified Heat Pump Water Heaters

Tags:  Residential Programs 

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Apogee’s Customer Engagement Solutions Now on a Single Platform

Posted By Karen Morris, Wednesday, February 8, 2017


Apogee will showcase the Empower Platform new product launch at AESP National next week. Visit booth 200 and to learn more.

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Tags:  customer engagement digital  Energy Analysis  Residential Programs 

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