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Engaging Your Customers in a Touchless Environment

When it comes to energy efficiency, most customers want to get involved. They’re actively looking for ways to reduce their carbon footprint, engage in sustainability and become more educated in regard to their energy usage. Both residential and commercial customers believe that improving energy efficiency in their home or business is the fastest, most affordable and largest single solution for simultaneously saving both energy and money.  

So, if customers are so keen to get involved, why are utilities still finding many of their programs aren’t meeting goals—savings or participation?

It doesn’t take a data scientist to notice the vast changes between today’s customers and the customers of ten years ago. Businesses have evolved and transformed to keep up with expectations, and utilities need to do the same. Who would have thought something as simple as a toothbrush could be transformed into a stylish, sought-after subscription-based product? Utilities need to utilize that same mindset when appealing to their customers: innovation, personalization and meeting customers where they are.  

These days, as many as 90% of utility customers want a hands-off savings option. They don’t want to take the time to schedule an appointment for direct installation or meet with an energy advisor. Or, in today’s post-pandemic world, they just don’t want strangers in their homes or businesses. So, how should your utility respond? 

Consider a Kit Portal 

Your customers don’t understand the complexities of scalability, quick deployment, validation, customization, nurture campaigns, and evaluation. And they don’t need to. The right kit program will build in all those components along the way, and all your customers will see is an interactive quiz that picks out a beautiful “custom” box which is shipped to their door with energy-saving measures picked out just for them.  

In addition to the obvious cool factor of jumping on the “subscription box” trend, kit portals and programs are home runs for utilities. What customers see as a fun little quiz is actually a data-backed self-assessment to provide you with valuable insights about your customers. The custom box filled with products picked out “just for them” is actually one of several semi-custom kits, making fulfillment a (cost-effective) breeze. And the follow-up email that asks customers whether they installed their kit contents is actually built-in savings validation.  

There are other benefits to kit programs along the way, too. You could offer add-on products when customers are online, checking out the contents of their custom kit. You could send text message-based product installation support to make sure customers are able to install their products. And once your customers have their new kit in their hands and are fully engaged, make other program participation opportunities readily available right in the portal. 

Focus on the Customer 

The weak point in many energy-saving utility programs is their one-size-fits-all experience that leaves customers feeling more like an account number than an individual. Fix this issue and boost participation and engagement with some easy customer-focused tactics:  

  • Integrated marketplaces. Imagine if your customer was able to purchase a much-needed water heater, redeem a rebate and enroll the water heater in a demand management program—all without ever leaving your utility’s website. Talk about easy and streamlined. That’s the power of an integrated marketplace. 
  • Segmentation. Get to know your customers’ lifestyle and communication preferences before offering them recommendations. Segment customers into similar groupings based on shared characteristics by gathering data via survey, virtual audit, kit portal, customer engagement platform and more. From there, utilize the data to offer customers what they’ll actually want and avoid wasting resources on reaching out to customers with irrelevant offerings. Bonus tip: you’ll get the most bang for your buck if this is done automatically with a platform or workflow.  
  • Cool stuff. Especially in more saturated markets, offer products beyond the old standards. Instead of LED bulbs, offer fun, high-tech products like smart LEDs, smart plugs, smart thermostats, battery back-up bulbs and energy-monitoring devices. 

To engage customers and boost participation rates, your programs and services need to evolve alongside customer preference and current trends. Your utility needs innovative programs and engagement tools that meet customers where they are—whether it’s in person, over a video chat, or in a self-serve environment where they don’t talk to you at all.  

It’s time for utilities to seek program services that actually support their customers—while achieving energy savings. If you’re ready to dive in and explore the next generation of kit programs and portals, we’re here to help. Contact us today to discover how our cutting-edge efficiency solutions can help you reach your goals. 

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Megan Nyquist
Written by Megan Nyquist

Digital Marketing Strategist
Marketing is always evolving, but Megan Nyquist knows how to stay one step ahead. As an expert in both digital marketing strategy and digital campaign development, she works closely with clients and program marketing staff to develop innovative digital marketing campaigns that improve results and reduce costs. Megan also leads digital marketing training for the Franklin Energy marketing team and our clients. She has achieved trackable customer engagement in our own corporate marketing and effected impressive improvements in satisfaction and participation on behalf of our utility clients. Megan holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Marquette University, extensive digital marketing certifications and has won multiple digital marketing awards on behalf of Franklin Energy and our clients.

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