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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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Xcel Energy Garners AESP Award for Personalized Video Messaging Program

Posted By Karen Morris, Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Enhancing the Customer Experience and Improving Brand Perception

For Immediate Release:

Atlanta, GA - January 23, 2019 - Today during the Association of Energy Service Professionals’ (AESP) 29th National Conference in San Antonio, Texas, attended by more than 700 utility professionals, Xcel Energy was recognized for outstanding achievement in customer engagement. AESP is dedicated to bringing veteran and young energy industry professionals together to highlight the most forward-thinking energy companies and to help advance their careers. The AESP Energy Award is granted to select utilities annually to recognize the spirit of innovation. Xcel Energy’s outbound communications program, developed by Apogee Interactive, combines customer engagement, customer satisfaction, education, and program promotions.

Xcel Energy’s Personalized Video Messaging (PVM) program has achieved strong results in customer engagement using proactive, personalized videos to educate customers about how to lower their electric bills, prepare for heating and cooling seasons, delivers annual energy summaries as well as and an email message with information about online energy audits and other programs.

The pilot program, which has now gone to scale, showed that 89 percent of Xcel Energy customers found the videos were very or somewhat useful, with 93 percent giving encouraging feedback. Of the recipients responding, 58 percent reported an improved perception of the Xcel Energy brand.

Engagement, as measured by open and click-thru rates were equally impressive.  Open rates topped 50 percent with click-thru rates of 16 percent an increase of what the company typically experiences. Perhaps the most notable accomplishment of the pilot was the 15 percent reduction in calls to the contact center from the treatment group receiving the personalized videos vs. the control.

Apogee’s CEO, Susan Gilbert stated, “Today’s highly competitive marketplace has proven that regardless of industry, companies that deliver personal and relevant messaging find increased customer engagement.” She added, “Our clients are seeing astounding and lasting results with our outbound communications platform, Apogee is proud to serve Xcel Energy and support their innovative approach to customer engagement.”

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 proactive and personalized 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 www.apogee.net or on LinkedIn.

About Xcel Energy:

Xcel Energy (NASDAQ: XEL) provides the energy that powers millions of homes and businesses across eight Western and Midwestern states. Headquartered in Minneapolis, the company is an industry leader in responsibly reducing carbon emissions and producing and delivering clean energy solutions from a variety of renewable sources at competitive prices. For more information, visit xcelenergy.com or follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

 

Tags:  Apogee Interactive  award  customer engagement  digital engagement  marketing 

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Performance Metrics Gone Wild!

Posted By Karen Morris, Thursday, November 8, 2018

 

I recently had a conversation with a utility executive who informed me of an unbelievable occurrence.  He had discovered that customers calling the contact center questioning a high bill were being recommended to have an in-house energy audit rather than receiving an answer to their question; the appropriate answer was the summer temperature had increased from the previous month and there were more days in the billing cycle.  The reason for this occurrence was that the contact center representatives were being measured on the typical and well-known metrics such as first call resolution, average handle time and number of calls answered.  The easiest path to meeting these metrics was to pass the customer along to another department.  When speaking with another utility executive I heard the same story and then another executive conveyed the same message.

Referring a customer to a field audit does have some positive benefits such as increased customer engagement, and if the auditor does discover a defect in the home, it will improve customer satisfaction.  However, the down-side to the contact center representatives’ actions most likely outweigh the potential benefits.  First, from a customer’s point of view, the question was not answered; the inquiry was merely deferred.  Second are the financial ramifications; the cost of a call is typically between $7.50 and $12.50- the cost of a field audit is typically between $250 and $300.  Using the 6x to 8x expense to revenue multiple from my previous article, the cost of the frivolous field audit erased the entire annual revenue generated by the customer. Third, from an operational efficiency standpoint, it is much more efficient to recommend that a customer use an on-line self-service tool rather than calling the contact center or requesting a field audit; digitally engaged customer are 20% more satisfied than non-digitally engaged consumers.

The Apogee suite of solutions are designed to specifically answer these customer inquiries either directly by the customer via a utility website or by a CSR.

 

About The Author

Jim Malcom, Chief Financial Officer and EVP of APOGEE Interactive, Inc.

 

Jim Malcom is Chief Operating Officer of Apogee Interactive, Inc., providing oversight business and financial operations of the company. His senior management experience in the telecommunications and management consulting industries is providing strategic direction for Apogee’s continued growth and success.

Malcom brings more than 20 years in corporate finance and accounting to Apogee, which began with the firms KPMG and Ernst & Young in Atlanta. His career steadily expanded to include senior posts as chief financial officer, corporate controller, vice president and treasurer for such area companies as Heidelberg USA, LecStar Telecom and Powertel.

He 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  Cost reduction  Customer Engagement 

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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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Oklahoma Electric Cooperative Strengthens Member Relationships With Apogee’s Bill Alerts

Posted By Karen Morris, Tuesday, October 23, 2018

For Immediate Release:

Atlanta, GA  Today in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Electric Cooperative’s Manager of Marketing and Member Services, Autumn McMahon, and Apogee Interactive’s Account Manager, Stephanie Knight, presented OEC’s case study at Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperative’s Public Relations / Member Relations fall conference. This year’s conference focuses on how utilities can use big data to better inform and engage members.

Since the onset of mandatory TOU rates in 2013 and impending rate increases, Oklahoma Electric Cooperative realized it was crucial to help members better understand their bills. Ms. McMahon was instrumental in launching OEC’s member education campaign, knowing members needed relevant and proactive communications.

McMahon shared her strategy for building strong member relationships, reducing the need to make bill inquiry calls, and educating OEC members on ways to save energy. The pilot program she launched this year included mid-cycle bill alerts letting customers know in advance what their bills were forecasted to be while there is still time to influence them.  It also included links to a home energy audit that lets members profile their home and receive tips on saving money.  Beginning in January of 2018 with a soft launch sending 1,400 mid-cycle email alerts, the program has grown to more than 153,000 bill alerts containing links to the online audit the energy audit calculator and other energy education resources.

Results were remarkable!  Recipients reported these statistics:

  • 92% want to continue to receive the email alerts.
  • 94% rated alerts very or somewhat useful.
  • Email open rates were well above expected, averaging 42%.

“These messages are thoughtfully helpful during peak periods of usage & can help us prepare (plan to save ahead) for high peak periods if necessary! THANK YOU for considering our situations & ideas. It will help ALL of us!” OEC Member

“I love getting this information. Please don't stop.” OEC Member

During the program, the online energy audit was used to make 11,470 calculations increasing the number of home profiles. OEC is using the data collected in the home profile combined with AMI data to further personalize and target members for programs and rebate offers.

According to McMahon, “The best part of this program is my team doesn’t do the leg work.  We have a 30-minute call once a month with the Apogee team.” Putting the member in control of their energy use and taking away the surprise of a higher than normal bill is building stronger relationships with members and starting meaningful conversations.

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 proactive and personalized 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 www.apogee.net or LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/99046/.

About OEC:

Oklahoma Electric Cooperative is the state’s largest member-owned electric cooperative and provides electricity to over 44,000 members and 55,000 accounts in seven central Oklahoma counties. The service area includes approximately 2,200 square miles and 5,500 miles of line.

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Tags:  Apogee Interactive  communicating rates  customer engagement  TOU 

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Apogee Builds Solutions to Move Utilities from EE and DR to Electrification

Posted By Karen Morris, Thursday, September 13, 2018

Jim Albert CTO Interview from Apogee Interactive on Vimeo.

 Helping Utilities Turn Challenges into Opportunities

For Immediate Release:

Atlanta GA, September 13, 2018. The team at Apogee Interactive has identified several significant challenges facing utilities today. Apogee’s utility visionaries have combined their insight to the energy industry with client feedback to create new capabilities offered in their latest feature pack release set for September 25th.

Lead by Chief Software Architect, Joel Gilbert and Chief Technology Officer, Jim Albert, Apogee’s development team has focused on ways of effectively communicating the complicated topic of solar, net metering, new rate structures, and the impact of electric vehicles. Apogee is helping utilities move from energy efficiency and demand response towards customer engagement, operational efficiencies, and beneficial electrification.

For many years, outside of their whole-house cost and savings analyzer, Apogee has offered specialized tools for helping customers understand the cost impacts of solar, EVs, and various alternative electric rates.  But customers usually pay one bill and don’t think of these as separate issues.  This release wraps them all together and lets customers model whatever scenarios they are considering.

Gilbert explained, “Our solar module predicts the actual solar generation and add that back into the net metered results when analyzing the customers energy use.” Adding, “Whether they are looking at roof-top or community solar programs, customers can use our new release to get a realistic and un-biased estimate of solar production and cost impacts for their homes.”

Apogee has provided analysis for electric vehicles for many years, but this release is designed to help utilities promote electric vehicle adoption by showing realistic side-by-side savings predictions. The module will be included in the overall home energy analysis.

The big Feature Pack reveal is being presented in a series of webinars scheduled for September 25th and 27thWatch this short video with Jim Albert, to learn more.

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, Consolidated Edison, Lakeland Electric, and Jackson EMC. For more information visit www.apogee.net  or on LinkedIn.

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

 

 

  

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Tags:  Apogee Interactive  customer engagement  Electri  Energy Efficiency Experts of Tomorrow  solar 

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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 www.apogee.net  or on LinkedIn.

 

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

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 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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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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Turning High Bill Complaints into High Bill Compliments

Posted By Karen Morris, Thursday, May 10, 2018
https://vimeo.com/261493758

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 www.apogee.net or LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/99046/.

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 info@apogee.net

 

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Tags:  Apogee Interactive  corporate communications  customer engagement  Residential Programs 

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