A Guide to Customer Engagement

These days, customer engagement is more than just a buzzword — companies that have truly focused on improving their customer engagement strategy have seen real returns on their investment. But while the impact of customer engagement transcends industry and customer type, many electricity companies face an uphill battle when it comes to customer engagement.

Customers view their electricity as simply a bill that comes in the mail every month. The relationship is strictly transactional. Such a shallow (and negative) relationship leads to very little interaction. Any strategy based upon enforcing these already existing avenues is a waste of time.

Here are four ways you can engage your customers:

1. Customize the Bill-Paying Experience

Traditionally, the only content individualized for a customer was the amount due on the bill. However, the bill is still an effective medium for convincing customers to read your message, and you should use this opportunity to create value.

First, segment customers by home type, home features, behaviors, motivations, or participation in other programs. Then you can send tailored messages to specific customers based on their segmentation. By creating relevant messaging, you’ll forge an emotional bond with your customers through your shared values.

2. Increase Social Media Engagement

Still, engagement goes beyond the bill. Most of today’s companies use social media for customer service. This can be very helpful because these interactions occur in a public forum, but these are mainly conversations with negative overtones. Customers rarely rave about how great their electricity provider’s service is. More often than not, they turn to the Internet to complain about high bills or outages.

The benefits of increased positive social media interactions are obvious. Think about it: Would you rather sign up with a company whose Google search yields purely vitriolic comments or a company that has a Facebook page full of happy customers? Try adopting a loyalty program to engage customers, and watch what happens!

3. Utilize Tech to Interact With Your Customers

Smart meters and smartphones have the capability to turn energy consumption into a fascinating and interactive customer experience. Don’t just use smart meters as a device to help electricity providers remotely monitor usage, detect fraud, and connect/disconnect services. Look at them as a valuable data hub and an enabler of interactive tools that can benefit customers, too.

In today’s tech-centric world, people are much more attracted to interactive, real-time data visualization than the old-school graphs, charts, and meticulously analytical numbers that company executives like to see. By creating engaging, easy-to-understand customer portals that leverage the data from smart meters, you can give your customers something more than just a bill — you can give them knowledge and more importantly, a fun way for them to consume it.                                                                                                              

4. Stay Future-Minded

Always look for ways to enhance your customers’ experience and knowledge. By creating programs that leverage the capabilities of the connected home with data acquired from smart meters, electricity providers can accomplish their goal of a smooth load curve and deliver even more value to their customers.

There’s still a long road ahead. It will be at least another decade before connected homes are as ubiquitous as smartphones. But while we wait for that, let’s focus on shifting electric companies away from traditional models of customer interaction. The bill-centric model is outdated — it’s time to keep up with the rest of the world.

Customer-engagement programs are a great way to stir positive emotions in clients who mostly only talk to electricity companies when they’re upset. If enough providers buy into this, those who choose not to adapt will soon find themselves left behind.

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