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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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Apogee's Energy News

Posted By Karen Morris, Friday, March 23, 2018
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Why Personalization Matters white paper

Posted By Ryan Gooch, Friday, March 9, 2018

 

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.

 

Ryan Gooch, Director of Customer Success
Fivework
ryan@fiveworx.com

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Tags:  customer engagement  customer engagement digital  customer satisfaction  digital engagement  fiveworx  personalization  white paper 

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Proven Strategies for Building Email & Mobile Lists

Posted By Karen Morris, Monday, February 19, 2018

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

Shared challenges faced by utilities named during the presentations where:

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

How are utilities meeting these challenges?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Tags:  Apogee Interactive  Customer Engagement Residential Programs  digital engagement 

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Loyalty Craze in Competitive Businesses

Posted By Karen Morris, Wednesday, August 23, 2017

I noticed the people I met during my Fourth of July week on vacation  in Minneapolis were surprised by my answer to “What brings you to town?”  First there would be a long pause…followed by a laugh and a question like, “Really, you came here on vacation?”

Yes, really!  I’d heard this is the time of year to come, what is referred to as the “Week of Summer” by my Minneapolis friends.  The primary reason for picking Minneapolis for vacation was my 20 year old son has always wanted to participate in a fund raiser for Doctors Without Borders that raises money through a video gaming marathon.  Volunteers speed-run the games and viewers make donations to this worthy charity.

Not being a gamer, I took a tour of the Twin Cities then lost myself for days at the Mall of America, the largest mall in North America and 12th largest in the world.  While it was hard to grasp the enormity of the space and the number of stores, what struck me most as I shopped and dined there was the commitment the retailers had for gaining my e-mail address and enrolling me in their loyalty program.  Every transaction I had included the clerk asking, “what is your e-mail address?”  If I hesitated to give it or questioned their need for it, I was offered some logical reason for giving it, like, “We’ll send you a tracking number so you can…” or “You will receive a coupon for $25 off your next…” or we’ll e-mail you the receipt and warranty information.

In some stores, they offered a discount off my entire purchase in exchange for my contact information, others offered a $5 or $10 reduction in my purchase.  Then there were the loyalty cards and key chain hangers with bar codes for identification and repeat use.  Immediately my e-mail box began filling with offers to engage and sign up for other services.  The ones I opened were the ones personalized to me and obviously relevant to something I cared about and related to what I had purchased at that store.

As I watched the news in the airport on the way home, I heard that Sears and K-Mart have announced more store closings and according to Fortune, even the high end stores like Neiman Marcus are in big trouble trying to compete with online shopping.  Seems like the ones still in the game, certainly the ones at the Mall of America, are banking on customer engagement and loyalty to stem the tide and keep their registers ringing.

The challenge is familiar to us here at Apogee where for 25 years now, we have been helping utilities better serve and educate their customers.  My natural gas provider here in Georgia where gas is deregulated and the marketplace highly competitive, highlights the line item on my bill each month showing what I have earned as a credit for being a loyal customer.  It’s not a lot of money, but it reminds me each billing cycle that they know I have been with them for many years and that they appreciate my business and loyalty.

If you’d like to know more about how other utilities are successfully accumulating contact information and building digital engagement, visit www.apogee.net to learn more or contact us at info@apogee.net

About The Author

Susan Gilbert, CEO, Apogee Interactive, Inc.

Susan Gilbert is Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of APOGEE Interactive, Inc. Susan's life-long interest and passion is to educate consumers about energy and energy efficiency -- through utility and educational channels.

Her career is a natural progression of this passion, beginning as a high school physics teacher in Atlanta. She moved on to work for an energy-engineering firm, A&C Enercom, where she helped launch energy audits for businesses across Georgia under a new State Energy Office initiative. Over the next 17 years, she lead A&C Enercom’s sales and marketing operations, building the business from a staff of five in Atlanta to more than 600 employees across the country.

In the early '90s, Susan founded Apogee Interactive with the vision of leveraging technology to more effectively deliver energy information. Today, she leads the company in delivering best-in-class Web-based energy analysis and data presentment applications including Energy Advisor Enterprise, Envoy Outbound Communication, Field Audit Tools, Eco-Stewards, Energy Libraries and a Kid's Korner energy education website, and an eLearning portal for utilities known as Study-Center.com. Through her leadership, the firm, its people and its products, have achieved national recognition for analytical superiority, cutting-edge innovation, and excellence in performance and customer service. In 2017, Susan began a 5-year term as Trustees of Georgia's Developmental Disabilities Ministries (DDM), a nonprofit, charitable corporation serving adults with developmental disabilities and their families.

Susan earned her bachelor’s of science with a major in physics and a minor in mathematics at the University of Kentucky and also her masters in curriculum and instruction from the University of Kentucky. She serves on the board of Smoke Rise Country Club LLC and is active in Smoke Rise Baptist Church as a deacon.

 

Tags:  Apogee Interactive  Customer Engagement  Digital Engagement 

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Apogee Interactive Launches Energy Platform for Information & Communication (EPIC) Targeted at Hard-to-Serve Customers

Posted By Karen Morris, Wednesday, August 9, 2017

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/

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

Tags:  Apogee Interactive  corporate communications  customer engagement digital  digital engagement  energy education  energy efficiency programs  home energy retrofits  low income 

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Case Study: Driving Member Satisfaction and Lowering Costs

Posted By Karen Morris, Thursday, April 27, 2017
https://vimeo.com/213870996/c8b1752764

Just published this week, Driving Member Satisfaction and Lowering Costs with Personal Video Messaging - The study features Apogee's personalized bill analysis videos provided by Old Dominion Electric Cooperative to 5 member cooperatives. The results are outstanding. Read the attached or learn more at http://www.apogee.net/case-studies/

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Tags:  Apogee Interactive  customer Engagement  digital engagement  Energy Efficiency 

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