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Encouraging homeowners to make retrofits when they aren't thinking about them is difficult. What could be easier is doing so when energy efficiency (EE) is top-of-mind for them.
The question is: "When are people thinking about energy efficiency?".
The answer? When they are moving into a new home.
In fact, USA Today rates “Improving energy efficiency” as the number one upgrade you can make to increase the value of your home. For example, a Remodeling.com survey found that homeowners could recoup 116% of the costs of attic insulation.
Homeowners are increasingly aware that HVAC, water heaters and window upgrades are cost-effective changes that provide a solid ROI when it comes time to move or sell.
Despite this interest, this is an issue for utilities. Even if people are willing to make energy efficient upgrades, this does not eliminate the big problem of free ridership rate among their customer base. Free ridership, is of course, the degree to which energy efficiency program participants take incentives for projects which would have been done with or without the program.
Getting more program participation while reducing free ridership rate. In fact, on their own, they are both issues that the utility world has not seemed to figure out yet. Of course, for some states, there’s less of an emphasis on free ridership, but the fact remains that utilities must get their customers to participate in energy efficiency programs.
So, how can utilities get more people to make energy efficient retrofits, while actually showing that they influenced those decisions?
Answer: By targeting homeowners who are likely to move or sell their home!
These homeowners are the perfect candidates for EE programming. Why? They recently bought a new house, and want to ensure their new asset is as valuable as possible. Their family is moving in, and they want to sure its comfort and livability.
A disgruntled homeowner who's used to what they're living in? Not happy when you tell them about a $2,500 HVAC incentive.
A new homeowner who's told about a free Smart Thermostat? They'll be thanking you, because that’s could raise the value of their asset.
There are a plethora of ways utility program managers may be able to do this, and some of them are listed below:
Digital Marketing: Online platforms such as Facebook and Google allow you to show your ads to specific people who are in your likely range of people who want to move. With Facebook, you can actually use Interest targeting and ask Facebook to show your ads to people who are most likely to be moving. The ad might say something like, “Selling your home or moving? Learn how a new HVAC can increase your home property value by XX%!”
A message like this would really resonate with the homeowner who is moving or selling their home.
Surveys and Direct Mail: Another way of knowing what your customers are doing? Ask them!
Short online surveys done via SurveyMonkey, or paper mail ones are an easy, effective way of figuring out which of your customers are moving, or not. You know that any customers that identifies that they may be thinking of moving would likely be interested in energy efficiency retrofits. Therefore, these individuals would be great candidates for marketing efforts down the line.
The drawback of this method? It is rather time consuming, low-tech and sometimes, people just don’t want to be bothered.
Implementing New-Age Software-As-a-Service (SaaS) Products: SaaS. It's not as complicated as it sounds. People have long dismissed utility engagement tactics as dated and low-tech, but that is simply no longer the case. Technology solutions such as MyEnergyXpert are able to take data science and AI, and integrate them with online platforms to identify homes that are ripe for participation.
The technology exists where people will now be able to target homeowners who are most likely to enrol and when they want to enrol.
Utility program managers can now look like geniuses - people are participating because of them, and they can easily track why and how.
It's time to flip the script on utility customer engagement for energy efficiency programs.
Sending customers 50-page unwanted home energy reports? There's no need.
Dealing with contractors for complicated home audits? Forget about that. Wasting marketing and customer care budget on campaigns that won't work? Those days are over.
Giving customers personalized recommendations right when they need it? Sign them, and us, up.
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.
Pre-heating season video,
Personal video bill explanation,
Personalized annual summary report video, and
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.
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.
* 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.
The world is a really noisy place. It can be incredibly challenging to deliver messaging to your customers that gets their attention and gets results. Your best chance is to personalize your communication and engage customers at the individual level at every touch point. The right approach to personalization is good for both you AND your customer, helping you become a trusted purveyor of useful, relevant content. While email is one of the most impactful and cost-effective channels for personalizing your messaging to customers, the same level of personalization can be applied across all channels and initiatives. This is great news, because now more than ever, utilities need to connect with customers on a more meaningful level. Personalization is a strategic imperative.
Personalized Utility Communications Increases Customer Satisfaction by 16%
Atlanta, GA – Feb. 15, 2018, Apogee Interactive, Inc. announced today their latest innovation, Envoy, a complete outbound communications platform for utility customer communications. This end-to-end digital engagement strategy includes personalized energy bill analysis videos, mid-cycle and threshold alerts, email messaging, and periodic energy summary reports. Findings from pilot programs studied over the last several years prove stellar results including increased customer satisfaction and program participation. Another powerful statistic is Apogee’s outbound messaging is achieving click through rates more than 30 times the industry average.
One large investor-owned utility analyzed the effectiveness of energy summary reports with a control group of 40,000 participants. This group saw a 16% increase in customer satisfaction with no negative impact. Another pilot program featuring personalized video bill analysis, reported that 98% of the video recipients wanted to continue receiving the videos and 93% reported they felt this was an effective way of communicating why the utility bill changed from month to month.
Studies also prove high bills generate more calls to the call center than outages; the Envoy solution includes threshold and mid-cycle alerts that put the customer in control of their energy use, and reduces utility operating costs. By proactively communicating with customers through text or email alerts gives them a chance to make a difference in behavior that impacts their bill before they make a call.
“Today’s energy customers are more demanding; they expect personalized, relevant digital engagement with the companies they do business with” stated Lynn England, V. P. of Customer Engagement, Apogee Interactive, “We are finding our early adopters are meeting and exceeding their goals using the Envoy platform,” he continued. “Successful utility professionals are embracing digital channels and realizing its impact on program participation, revenue generation, and cost reduction.”
Susan Gilbert, CEO & President of Apogee added, “Apogee’s energy modeling was RESNET rated at the highest “Home Rating” level and ranked most accurate by a sizeable margin. This enables utilities to provide consistent, correct information across all communications channels while positioning utility providers as trusted source of energy information.”
JD Power reports in their 2017 Residential Utility Customer Satisfaction Study that digital communications between utilities and their customers has risen approximately 5% in the past year. JD Power also attributes higher customer satisfaction scores to multi-channel communications.
Apogee Interactive is nation’s leading full-service provider of proactive customer engagement software services for utilities. A partner with the utility industry since 1993, Apogee’s digital engagement platform delivers digital proactive, personalized communication to hundreds of North American utilities from coast to coast including some of the largest most progressive such as Southern Company (NYSE: SO), ConEd (NYSE: ED), PSEG (NYSE: PEG), and Tucson Electric Power (NYSE: TEP). For more information visit www.apogee.net or LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/99046/
The hot topic lately has been the Internet of Things or IoT. And, well it should be since we are moving into a connected world. But, it seems to me that the words of the great hockey player Wayne Gretsky apply here. You don’t skate to where the puck is to be great … you skate to where the puck is going!
Few would argue that the small letters “aa” are the key here. Businesses, including ours, are building software applications that offer services instead of selling the applications directly. This enables huge reductions in costs and permits fluid improvements that occur in the background of most people’s lives.
But, there are some new and perhaps unexpected twists in this evolution. Take a look at the following:
If I gave you the acronym IaaS what would you think the “I” stood for? Right now, it is infrastructure.
IaaS Examples: Amazon Web Services (AWS), Cisco Metapod, Microsoft Azure, Google Compute Engine (GCE), Joyent.
That is where the puck is right now. Where is it going? I believe the “I” will very shortly stand for “Information.” That is what our latest product for low income customers really achieves: Information as a Service” to those who most need it and who now seldom receive it.
This article was provided by Joel Gilbert, P.E. is Chief Software Architect and Co-Founder of APOGEE Interactive, Inc. To learn more subscribe to Apogee's blog at www.apogee.net/blog
where he personally directs the design and development of energy analysis applications utilizing the highest standards in building science, engineering, operational patterns, weather data and pricing to ensure analytical integrity.
New “EPIC” Suite of Digital Products Unlocks Engagement, Cost Savings
ATLANTA, GA – August 9, 2017– Apogee Interactive announced the launch of EPIC, the Energy Platform for Information & Communication (EPIC) that provides a compelling suite of cutting-edge digital customer engagement tools specifically targeted to low-income consumers, renters, and residents of multi-family buildings.It shows them realistic ways to save energy and money that builds trust and customer satisfaction in this crucial (and growing) market segment.
EPIC communicates energy information targeted to customers who lack the ability to make significant home energy efficiency investments. It emphasizes how they can realistically control their energy costs and gives them meaningful insights into how small changes in behavior can add up to substantial savings. The platform is based on a customized edition of Apogee’s flagship Energy Advisor analysis application that provides customers insight into their energy use, habits, and trends. EPIC leverages email and texting to supply on-the-go energy efficiency guidance enabling families to take charge of their spend. Tips are tailored to a consumers’ household profile and can often be implemented right away with no outside assistance and at little or no cost.
EPIC’s capabilities begin with targeting the right customers for relevant program participation, then recruits and enrolls them.Not stopping there, it continues with personalized progress reporting to keep customers engaged and motivated.In addition, the platform includes Apogee’s most popular Special Purpose Calculators that give customers a unique look at the energy footprint of their household electronics and appliances. Optional engagement enhancements to the base EPIC offering include video messaging, alerts, bill explanations, and energy summary reports.
“Apogee’s Energy Platform for Information & Communication produces truly epic results for utilities and customers alike,” says Apogee CEO, Susan Gilbert. “While customers enjoy personal messaging with guidance about savings, utilities achieve increased customer satisfaction rates and lower operating costs from reduced call volume, improved cash flow, and less bad debt.”
For more information about EPIC’s advantages and how it could help you support your hard-to-serve customers, contact Apogee.
About Apogee Interactive, Inc.
Apogee Interactive is nation’s leading full-service provider of proactive customer engagement software services for utilities. A partner with the utility industry since 1993, Apogee’s digital engagement platform delivers on-line and outbound proactive, personalized communication to consumers nationwide. The company’s digital reach extends through more than 600 utilities to 48% of US households and businesses, increasing utility customer satisfaction and slashing costs. Apogee’s cloud-based, SaaS platform enables more meaningful customer engagement, proven sustainable energy results, and improved program performance for utilities. For more information visit www.apogee.net or LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/99046/
Canadian Utility to Launch Apogee Interactive’s Energy Calculators for Residential and Commercial Customers
First Launch of Apogee Interactive’s Technology in Canada
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
ATLANTA (May 18, 2017) –A Canadian utility will soon launch Apogee Interactive’s Energy Advisor for its residential customers and Apogee’s Commercial Energy Calculator for business customers, proven industry-leading technologies designed to help customers lower their energy bills and leverage the utility’s energy efficiency products and services.
The partnership marks a milestone for Apogee, as it is Apogee’s first partnership with a Canadian utility provider. The Canadian utility plans to use the online tools to engage customers, providing them with more information on their usage and helping them understand how energy efficiency practices and behaviors can lower their power bills.
The Energy Advisor and Commercial Energy Calculator will help customers learn what drives their electric consumption and the factors that impact costs and fluctuations in their bill. Business customers who use the Commercial Energy Calculator will also be directed to efficient products and services offered by the utility to help them lower energy costs and improve their business’ bottom line.
Features of the Energy Advisor include:
·A responsive user interface
·Energy saving recommendations and links to programs
·Energy libraries designed to further educate consumers who are engaged online.
The Commercial Energy Calculator incorporates the Energy Advisor features and can also assist account managers and commercial auditors. It offers a wide array of tools designed to better serve business customers of varying sizes.
“We are honored to be chosen by a Canadian utility to help them improve their customer experience,” said Susan Gilbert, President and CEO of Apogee Interactive. “Our Energy Advisor is a proven solution for utilities seeking to provide their customers with a hands-on, personalized experience.”
About Apogee Interactive
Apogee Interactive is the nation’s leading provider of customer engagement technology for utilities. Partnering with utilities since 1993, Apogee’s digital engagement platform delivers proactive, personalized communication to residential and commercial customers nationwide. Apogee’s proven SaaS platform enables more meaningful customer engagement, proven sustainable energy results, reduced operating costs, and improved program performance for utilities. For more information, please visit www.apogee.net. Follow us on Twitter at @apoweb and on Linkedin.