Homeowners Need Actionable Data, Not Just Knowledge to Make Energy Efficiency Decisions

By Larry Gordon, CEO, EmpowerSaves

They also need products and services that address their specific home’s needs

Metrics show that simply given data about how a homeowner can save money on their energy bills, they will take action that will save them, on average, 2.5% on their energy bills. Pretty abysmal, and not very motivating! The data being provided to them typically calls for behavioral changes on the part of the homeowner as opposed to recommending specific products and services that can reduce energy costs considerably.
However, when given data and the opportunity to buy products and services to cut energy expenditures, customers save on average 25%.  This remarkable step change in results is because data is simply not enough. Customers want help along the way. And the help needs to be specific to the homeowner’s unique lifestyle, home structure and energy use.
Additional data shows that 66% of utility customers believe that utility communications aren’t relevant to them.  The Aberdeen Group shows that when customers are helped along a purchase journey, the results for winning over that customer are 54% more effective than when they are not guided through a purchase process. More importantly, the revenue realized from a complete customer journey program increases 300% from the previous state.
What does that mean for homeowners, utilities and manufacturers of energy saving products and services?
It means that digital tools and processes that guide shoppers, and put them in charge, allows utilities and manufacturers to understand what products they need, and how much money they are willing to spend.  The key is to make it a seamless process from first insight to final installation. The best journeys feature automation, personalization, and buying tools – all elements of how EmpowerSaves ushers consumers through to purchase.

The Customer Journey

Emerging technologies, processes and organizational structures can create new value for utilities and consumers.  Rather than merely provide information to consumers, and hope that they make the right choices, an understanding and ability to execute a complete customer journey that easily allows customers to purchase products and services that will provide a return on investment for them in the form of energy savings is a much more effective and engaging strategy.  The journey needs to be managed by utilities and/or manufacturers, and the journey is as important as the products and power infrastructure in providing a competitive advantage.
In Empower’s case, we have an automated predictive analysis engine that understands how much money and energy a particular household can save based on their specific information. We can also market and sell products and services to meet these energy saving opportunities – not just advice on how to reduce energy use. (Think of all the marketing some distribute telling us to turn off our lights or wash out clothes at night to save energy.)
Empower put together cross functional teams that include the software, mechanical, and energy engineers that improve the predictive analysis engine, a digital marketing team to help homeowners understand their opportunities, and the sales team to help them make purchases.
On the other side from the consumer experience, our client services team helps utilities and large manufacturers of energy products undergo a digital transformation in reaching and satisfying customers.
We provide skills and experience that these large enterprises generally don’t have. This includes data science experience to understand exactly how to segment customers based on need; data integration experts that know how to combine utility data with public records; and internet behavior data to build personalized, actionable reports for customers. Our digital marketing experts are then tapped to most effectively use dashboards and media buys to efficiently engage the most likely homeowners. A customer care and contact center to provide voice and chat support specifically based on the customized data set is also key.

Key parts of the journey

  • Increasing the value to customer, the manufacturer and the utility by offering the right customer experience, product and other offers, and doing it all for them
  • Generating revenue from value added products and services
  • Saving customers money and increasing convenience by using data and helping them take actions
  • Reducing the cost to find and service customers by using data and analysis

Tools and Methods:  How to do it

This involves streamlining and completing steps that were formerly done manually. In the energy efficiency space, this means replacing an in-home energy auditor with a highly accurate software tool that analyzes utility data, property records, weather data and other data.  It also means removing the manual process of asking a homeowner to research, purchase, and schedule the installation of energy saving products.
Proactive personalization.
It is not enough to let homeowners know how they are doing versus a group of the neighbors. Every house has different needs and systems.  Homeowners need to know how they are doing versus how well they could be doing, and what funding options there are to put moneyin their pocket: rebates, discounts and higher efficiency.
Journey innovation
This occurs through ongoing experimentation of customer needs and activation points.  It also happens though the machine learning capabilities of the predictive analysis engine.  In both cases – the more data in, the more accurate and efficient the outputs become.
Every step in a customer’s journey is a critical opportunity for a utility and manufacturer to manage costs, add value and meet the individual customer’s needs.
The results are in the data. It could be 15X better.