It seems everyone is trying to figure out what the future holds for our evolving energy industry. The good news is some elements have become clear. Beneficial electrification, expanding the use of EVs, integrating renewables into the supply portfolio, adjusting rates, and accounting for carbon are just a few. Much of what the industry must tackle now requires customer engagement and true partnering to achieve success.
By Joel and Susan Gilbert, Apogee Interactive, Inc.
As we begin the new year, it’s a good time to remember some basics, such as, business influence is built on customer trust. Let’s take a closer look at what that means today. Having trust requires being in an active relationship with the other party. Or, as Duke Power’s former CEO, Jim Rogers, would say and most would agree, “If you aren’t at the table, you’re on the menu!”
Whoever Gains The Customers’ Trust Wins
What does it mean to be “at the table?” First, you must be invited, respected, and appreciated. Therefore, a good place to begin is by having excellent customer satisfaction. It takes more than that. It also requires you have a distinct reason to be at the table.
Fortunately, members of the energy industry bring a wealth of knowledge and insights to customers’ concerns. Yet, if customers as only see us as “promoting” our business interests, we are viewed with suspicion. The best way around that is to drop your agendas… learn theirs and see how you can help. Corporate goals are fine but accomplishing them begins with establishing customer trust.
Years ago, Joel lectured on this idea using the movie Miracle on 34th Street message and emphasizing, as the Macy’s Santa did in the movie, recommending whatever is in the customer’s best interest is the best strategy in the end. A popular approach that still shows up today is one used by a car salesman: push whatever you have on the lot as the best fit for the customer. That model is not relational… it’s transactional, short-term, and self-serving. Some have trouble taking the longer-term view, but most who begin with trust achieve far better long-term goals.
Customer trust today is complex and wide-ranging. Customers have options they didn’t used to have. Many are interested in the rooftop solar that is being hotly promoted in their areas. That can be challenging because some are not motivated by economics, so showing them the true payback periods won’t deter them. Our point here is that the future of transportation is not just individual ownership of EVs. The future of home design is not only freestanding HVAC systems. The future is a portfolio, which means customers will have more choices. With choices come the opportunities and threats of relationships.
An astute marketer will try to understand the real underlying motive for the interest and steer the conversation towards other innovative technologies that fulfill that need, are better options, and possibly even position these customers as community leaders and innovators.
Everyone gets excited about EVs, and rightfully so, but EVs are not for everyone. They are certainly a key member of a transportation-sector portfolio. Look at the younger workforce and see how they would rather work and live in the same area and use public transportation. Many would rather rent a car when they need one vs. owning one.
Our point here is that the future of transportation is not just individual ownership of EVs. The future of home design is not only freestanding HVAC systems. The future is a portfolio, which means customers will have more choices. And, with choices come the opportunities and threats of relationships.
We at Apogee believe the foundation for trust with residential customers is explaining their bill, making sure they understand what drives them, helping them know what they can do about them, and where possible, helping them do that. Energy efficiency, EVs, renewables, carbon, comfort, today’s advanced controls and smart devices all matter. Many customers are overwhelmed with these questions and choices. Our wish for you is that they trust their utility enough to turn first to you for the advice they believe will be in their best interest.
Our suggestion for 2022 and beyond, no matter how complicated or conflicted the situation gets, the answer remains pretty simple: Whoever gains the customers’ trust wins.
Here’s to you winning! We are here to help.
“We noticed you left something in your cart…”
Kim Johnson, Key Accounts Manager, Apogee Interactive
Have you ever clicked on a product that you were interested in and then miraculously started getting ads presented to you for that product, similar products, or even a more direct message saying, “You left something in your cart.” That is Marketing Automation at its finest. Apogee can enable the same functionality for your customers based on the way they engage with our applications, like the Energy Advisor on-line audit, Special Purpose Calculators, our new MarketPlace, or when they respond to their Personalized Video Messages ending with an offer or call to action.
If your utility is uses Apogee’s Envoy messaging platform, Marketing Automation is a feature that is included and can easily be enabled. With Marketing Automation, if a customer begins an Energy Advisor online audit but doesn’t complete it, they can receive an email reminding them of where they were and linking them back to continue.
Also, customers who click on one of their audit recommendations to learn more, for example, on a new water heater, the system can send them a message with more details on the product they were viewing. You can also use the data collected within the online audit recommendations to better target your own planned campaigns specifically to customers who have the need based on our analysis or who have shown interest by clicking.
We regularly hear from our utility clients that internal Marketing and IT resources are stretched thin. Acting as an extension of your team, we are happy to activate Marketing Automation to help you accomplish your goals helping you work smarter, not harder, to connect with your customers.
A Hometown Connections partner, Apogee Interactive is a leading provider of customer engagement services for utilities, serving the energy industry since 1993. Apogee’s customer engagement platform helps utilities establish ongoing digital relationships with customers, helping them engage and educate customers, reduce costs, achieve behavioral energy efficiency, and grow customer satisfaction. Apogee’s solution enables personalized, relevant video-based messaging through multiple channels, drives self-service, and improves operational efficiencies through marketing automation. Apogee’s loyal client base includes Southern Company, Liberty Utilities, Duquesne, Tampa Electric, People’s Gas, CenterPoint, Xcel Energy, LADWP, and hundreds of other IOU, municipal, cooperative, and gas utilities. For more information visit, www.apogee.net or LinkedIn.