Turn E.E. Interest into Action: Customers need it simple.

Posted by Lauren Bell on January 21, 2016 at 7:07 AM

Screen Shot 2016-01-21 at 12.03.40 PM WATCH customer video.

"Despite an estimated $279 billion potential U.S. market for energy efficiency, just a fraction of this has been spent. The industry's greatest failure, arguably, is tied to how products and services are framed and sold to customers." - Green Tech Media

We talked about this last week (Energy Efficiency’s greatest failure…) and it triggered interesting conversation with colleagues across the industry.

To overcome “this failure”, we need to start with an inside-out approach from the customer POV. As a whole, the E.E. conversation needs to be simplified.

Nest is an obvious example of a brand doing it right. They’re making energy efficiency matter. It’s a sophisticated product. Speaking to a sophisticated audience. Their suite of products makes the “Smart Home” a real possibility for everyday consumers. They’ve tied saving energy to being easy and automatic, but also to tangential benefits like home comfort and peace of mind. Nest is a great example of a company who has leveraged energy efficiency to work for them. (And not merely be a feature, or displaying an ENERGY STAR sticker.)

Their message is simple because the brand focuses on the human side of their product. Constantly balancing the personal benefits with product features. Or in their latest round of work, "the magic of home." Nest makes the job of engaging with customers on energy efficiency seem easy. And let’s be honest, cool.

But, in most cases, it’s not. The challenges deepen if you’re a regulated utility or state organization and there are savings claims involved, so marketing the “softer” benefits of energy efficiency is a risk.

But ultimately, do we want to see a return on that $279 billion? We need to understand the customer and their relationship with and understanding of energy efficiency because how they perceive it is the reality you’re up against.

When asked why energy efficiency matters, customers talk about idealistic values – saving the planet and resources, but when asked about the reality of making energy efficiency improvements, they admit…

  • “It’s too complex and overwhelming.”
  • “They’re too many options. I don’t know where to begin.”
  • “I have to do too much research to understand it.” (And who has time for that?)

WATCH Customer Video.

So how do we overcome this?

We have to communicate differently. We have to simplify the offering. Industry-wide, we need to be showing all of the ways E.E. products and programs make people’s lives easier, not harder. If we don’t, we will continue to allow misperceptions of expense and complexity to brew.

KSV’s market research shows that customers want more communication and encouragement when it comes to energy efficiency and simplified information.

Find a way to nudge (err… encourage) people into smarter decisions that will lead to higher participation, sales and brand loyalty.

85% of customers want to be able to visualize their energy use. (52% state they would look at it regularly and actually change their behavior.)*

The reality is that changing behavior is hard. There are psychological factors at play (interesting read here) but the good news is that people are already interested.

The challenge is to make the products, programs and solutions stupidly simple so that people turn their interest into action. That’s what Nest does. That’s what FitBit and Mint do. These brands are all great examples of what energy efficiency needs to be.

Are there notifications (through an app, email or social media) that you can weave into the experience to encourage better, more efficient behaviors?

  • “Good evening! It’s 9:00pm. Most people in your time zone are watching TV right now. Turn off the lights in other rooms to save energy and money. Good night!”
  • “Good morning! It’s 8:00am. Don’t forget to unplug the coffee pot on your way out, saving energy and money. Have a terrific day!”

All of the sudden, you’re engaging in a conversation. You’re a part of smaller moments throughout people’s day and journey. You’re providing smaller, more manageable solutions at the right place and time, so when it comes time to investing time and money into products, programs or home services, they trust you.

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It’s fair to say that customer expectations of you grow every day. Their demands are somewhat unruly, but as a great marketer once said… “When it comes to the customer, perception is reality.”

These trends are not things you can change overnight, but with an experienced, strategic partner, you can create a plan to deliver relevant content and a streamlined user experience in less time than you would imagine. Call us. We’d love to help.

Stay tuned for KSV’s 2016 Market Research on Increasing Customer Satisfaction. National survey is currently in the field. We look forward to sharing our insights with you.

*KSV’s 2015 Market Research on Homeowners and their Relationship with E.E.

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Lauren Bell / Engagement Manager / 212.366.4000 / lbell@ksvc.com

Dave Treston / Senior Brand Strategist / 212.366.4000 / dtreston@ksvc.com 

Topics: Customer-Centric Marketing, customer demands, Customer Engagement, utility communications, Utility Marketing, energy efficiency, Intelligent Efficiency, marketing, personalization

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