Through its work with Apogee Interactive, Horry Electric Cooperative has achieved unprecedented success engaging its members with Short Message Service (SMS) or text messaging. Located on the South Carolina coast and serving 85,543 members, Horry EC is among the State’s fastest growing residential communities. With a goal of engaging members in an ongoing dialogue about their energy use, and using a previously untapped communication channel, Horry chose Apogee Interactive’s Engagement Platform for Information and Communication (EPIC) to text message its members with personalized, relevant, time-sensitive messages.
Apogee is the exclusive Customer Engagement partner of Hometown Connections, Inc., the national, non-profit utility services organization specializing in the unique challenges facing community-owned utilities.
97% Positive Feedback on Text Messaging
Beginning in July 2019 with 7,000 (11 percent) of Horry’s member’s mobile numbers, Apogee began sending short, meaningful texts to members with specific calls-to-action including enrolling in rebate programs, seeing payment and rate options, reminding of beat-the-peak events, and sharing seasonal money-saving tips. Sending at a rate of 2 messages per month, more than 83,000 texts messages were received by members producing a remarkable 97 percent positive feedback on the question, “do you feel this is an effective communication method?” And 95 percent of recipients requested continued to receive the messages Requests to be added to the program have brought the number of members receiving the text messages to 10,000 and is steadily rising.
According to Horry Electric’s Manager of Public Relations, Marketing and Energy Management, Penelope Hinson, “We are impressed that our members responded to this outreach with such profusely positive ratings and comments, like:
- “I loved the program! Getting text messages about peak times keeps me mindful about saving energy and I saved money at the same time! Thank you!
- “I think it’s a great program! If it ain’t broke, don’t change it!”
- “Very useful. Tips you wouldn’t think of or know on your own. Thanks for the help.”
She added, “Each message contains a call-to-action designed to further engage and inform members about our services. An unanticipated result was use of our online energy calculators skyrocketed, an eight-fold increase over use the previous year.”
EPIC can also target certain groups of customers such as low income or customers who would specifically benefit from opting into a different rate option.
Apogee’s Chief Operations Officer, Jim Malcom, reports, “We are finding text messaging to be extraordinarily effective and universally well-received by customers. This ability to cost-effectively deliver customized messages to the target audience most likely to be receptive to the offer is changing the way utilities think about ongoing digital customer engagement.”
Malcom continued, “We are seeing utilities that communicate with customers regularly with relevant messaging see higher customer satisfaction rankings and lower the cost to serve.”
Apogee Interactive, Inc., is a privately held, woman-owned business and one of the nation’s leading full-service provider of proactive customer engagement SaaS services for utilities. As a partner with the utility industry since 1993, Apogee’s digital engagement platform delivers proactive, targeted, relevant, and personalized communication for hundreds of North American utilities, including some of the largest and most progressive, such as Southern Company, ConEd, LADWP, and Jackson EC. For more information visit www.apogee.net or on LinkedIn.
Hometown Connections, Inc. is a national, non-profit utility services organization specializing in the unique challenges facing community-owned utilities. For more than 20 years, our expert team has helped over 900 utilities to modernize their processes and systems. Hometown Connections works with utilities of all sizes, facilitating access to technology and services from industry-leading companies and consultants. Hometown offers solutions to develop each area of the utility business: operations, cybersecurity, business strategy, customer care, finance, and workforce. Visit www.hometownconnections.com.