The question hovering over last week’s Retail Energy Marketer’s Conference in New York City was clear: how does the industry increase customer retention? Retail energy providers (REPs) compete to sell electricity and natural gas to residents and businesses in some states. (In some markets, REPs are known as ESCOs – Energy Service Companies.) One of the most frequent marketing challenges we heard was customer engagement. REPs deliver energy – often more cheaply than the local incumbent utility – and want to bring more to the table. The first step is engagement.
But what does engagement mean for an energy provider? Often the answer is not clear. Do more minutes on a website reflect an engaging customer experience, or a hard-to-use website? Are more visits better? What is the goal for an energy-engaged consumer?
Through our work, WattzOn has identified a few reliable drivers of energy engagement, and here are our top four ways to build lasting customer relationships:
Give your customers something to engage with: One of the first steps to building an engaged customer base is to create an opportunity for repeated contact, with meaningful reasons to return. Energy management resources, particularly when personalized, are a powerful way to engender trust and ultimately drive customer loyalty.
Add outbound, personalized, communications: Outbound text and emails that contain personalized information and insights are a great brand building opportunity for retail providers, aligning the energy company brand with value-added services.
Stay mobile, digital and easy: The new energy consumer is increasingly digital, which opens up new modes of tailored communication. High-use alert programs and mobile tips for trimming waste are great touchpoints that will increase customer engagement.
Keep it simple: For most consumers, energy savings are a way to control a necessary expense. Keep interactions simple and of high value.
As we look forward, engaging consumers will be increasingly important for the retail electricity market, and the providers that figure out their formulas for success first will start to separate from the pack. We’ll be following this area closely and sharing our thoughts on our blog. Check back to stay in the conversation, or write to us and let us know what you think.