In 2017, Lakeland Electric made it a strategic priority to provide customers with the knowledge and online tools to understand, manage, and predict their bills. The changes over the following three years created a basis for successfully navigating the coronavirus without the need for a related rate increase in 2021.
Exciting new enhancements make the Apogee customer engagement platform even more beneficial to utilities for customer education, self-service, energy efficiency, customer satisfaction, and operational efficiency.
Today, it seems everyone is online all the time. How can you capture your customers’ attention to share valuable information? Engage your customers through proven strategies for developing digital marketing content.
Municipal utilities that engage digitally with their customers throughout the year boost customer satisfaction and financial results, explained Apogee Interactive’s Chief Financial Officer, Jim Malcom, and Ellen Richardson, formerly of ElectriCities of Georgia, during a recent industry conference. In a presentation for the American Public Power Association’s 2020 Business and Financial Virtual Conference, Malcom and Richardson emphasized the importance of not limiting customer communications to times of outage or crisis. Happy customers, they said, are more likely to participate in programs, buy more services, and are more cost-efficient to serve. Satisfied customers are less likely to adopt disruptive technologies like rooftop solar rather than support community solar projects sponsored by the utility.
When the pandemic first emerged, Apogee Interactive conducted a survey asking their utility clients to identify their biggest challenges. The most common answer was communicating with their customers, followed by the need to assist customers financially. In response, Apogee offered its personalized video messaging service AT NO COST to any clients that would like to deploy it. And fortunately, many of them stepped up and leveraged the solution.
Residential customers and utilities benefit from varying rate plans. Still, the truth is, many customers don’t understand how their utility rates work or what rate would be best for their lifestyle. In a recent survey conducted by the Smart Energy Consumer Collaborative, 47% of customers didn’t know what their current rate plan was. In the same study, most customers said they would be willing to try a new rate plan, especially if it would allow them to save money. In order for utilities to make alternative rates useful and widely accepted, they need to have effective communications and provide educational tools that help customers understand what rate options are available and how their bill may change.
Utilities using Apogee’s ENVOY proactive messaging platform are seeing extraordinary results. The platform’s communication channels include personalized video bill explanations, text, and email messages that inform customers of payment options, financial assistance programs, low and no-cost ways to save, and rate options. What makes the messaging captivating is each message is composed using the customer’s billing history and AMI data, making it personal and relevant to each household. During the COVID-19 crisis, this communications strategy shows customers the utility cares, is helping them reduce energy costs, and identifies ways to manage their financial burden.
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.
Through a group purchasing program for joint action agencies, Apogee Interactive’s acclaimed Energy Advisor online energy audit and digital engagement platform is now available to public power utilities of all sizes and budgets.
To meet the growing needs of community-owned utilities, Apogee Interactive has expanded its customer engagement platform to include robust marketing automation features such as text-to-speech for its popular personalized video bill explanation services and EVs/solar added to the digital home energy profile service. The article below explains all the ways Apogee has enhanced its outbound communications and turnkey digital marketing services. Apogee is the public power industry’s Hometown Connections preferred provider for Customer Engagement.