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Achieving Higher Engagement in Hard-to-Reach Markets
March 16, 2020 •Megan Nyquist
Energy efficiency programs can have a big impact on hard-to-reach markets like small business, multifamily, and rural or low-income communities. With significant opportunity for energy and money savings derived from these programs, your commercial customers could potentially boost their bottom line, enabling them to be more competitive in today’s market. And for your residential customers, energy efficiency programs can literally help keep the lights on. With the staggering benefits, energy efficiency programs are an obvious win-win for both the customer and the utility, right?
The reality is, despite their importance, hard-to-reach markets are often underserved by utility programming, because these customers can be notoriously difficult to engage. While research indicates that utilities are not lacking in innovative program design, they are struggling to effectively connect with the variety of customers within the communities that they serve.
So how do you meet the needs of your hard-to-reach customers? The secret is in diversity. Because all customers have unique, and often distinct needs, your programs must be adaptive, ready to meet the changing environments of today’s marketplace. Programs and engagement methods need to be targeted, innovative, and diverse to fulfill the energy and demand savings potential of often over-looked or under-engaged consumers.
Here are just a few ways you can eliminate a one-size-fits all approach, and start delivering savings to all customers:
- SMS and MMS Alerts and Notifications. Make participating in your energy efficiency, demand response and other distributed energy resource programs as easy for your customers as it is to find something interesting to watch on Netflix. Instead of asking your customers to figure out how to participate in your programs, you can meet them where they are with emerging technology and intuitive messaging. SMS and MMS alerts and notifications allows you to assist your customers through their energy efficiency journey, communicating with them in a format that is convenient and easy to engage with while they are on the go. Just be sure you are following best practices when utilizing these platforms.
- Start Small. For some customers, the time and expense to participate in a rewarding energy efficiency program can seem daunting and not worth the effort. Especially if their only experience with your utility is receiving a monthly bill. Change that by starting small. Earn your customers trust by sending them an energy-saving kit filled with free, easy-to-install measures designed to provide immediate savings. The kit acts as a cost-effective marketing piece delivered directly to your customer’s doorstep. Utilize this quick win to invite them to participate in additional programs.
- Become Customer Centric. Take your offerings a step further by utilizing customer-centric tools to segment the market and provide customized offerings for each sub-segment. The programs, measures or rebates that are right for a restaurant owner may not fit the needs of a clothing boutique. Get to know your customers, understand what drives them, what influences them, and their preferred communication method. Then build a program offering around this insight.
- Adopt an Energy Advisor Model. Tailor your program approach to the unique operational demands of each customer segment. An energy advisor acts as a dedicated resource for your customers, providing technical assistance, personalized and relevant education, and support. Allowing your customers to focus their limited resources where it matters most-on their homes and businesses.
- Get Online. Bill inserts, direct-mail pieces and phone calls all have their place in a marketer’s toolbox, but alone, they aren’t necessarily the most cost-effective way to communicate with your hard-to-reach customers and keep them engaged. By taking your communication online, utilizing customer engagement platforms, you can personalize your messaging and provide relevant offers that are customized to each customer based on their stage in the customer journey. Connect that with an online marketplace, online audits, or mobile tools, and you enable all customers to participate in programs and offerings that deliver deep energy savings, all at the touch of a button.
Shifting traditional program offerings to a diverse mix that utilizes a customer-centric approach might seem overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be. Download our Guide to Best Practices for Customer Engagement Alert Notifications today!