Five Principles for Reaching Customers on Energy Efficiency

Posted by Energy Wire on December 17, 2014 at 12:53 AM

We’re inspired for a new year, a new message and a new normal.

But how do we get there? How do we inspire the traditionally unaware into a mindful, educated, accountable and influential user of resources? 

Much like the 700 industry professionals we spent last week with, KSV is diving into 2015 with big goals and a strong philosophy to better reach the energy customer.

We’ve compiled five key principles from the BECC conference that stand out in inspiring customers to make behavioral changes, and increase your participation and savings.

These takeaways confirm our strategic philosophy and will continue to be a pivotal role in our marketing efforts for energy solutions companies in 2015.

1.) Energy Efficiency is personal.

Your customers see energy efficiency as their own responsibility and a personal choice. They don’t want to be told what to do, and frankly, you shouldn’t try to. (When has that method ever worked for you personally?)

With residential customers, you’re marketing energy efficiency programs and energy savings tips… But what they’re hearing is a “to do” list for their home. A list that involves time, money, auditors (whom your customer doesn’t know) and changes to their personal sanctuary. The choice needs to be influenced, not mandated.

2.) Humanity matters.

Reminder: You and your customers are both human. Build upon this. Evolve from a traditional utility into a trusted energy advisor. Change your audience from ratepayers to customers. What does that conversation look like?

Remembering the human connection, showing a human commitment and proving an understanding of your customers’ human needs is critical when influencing waste behavior. We cannot just offer energy efficiency programs and expect them to swoon. We need to show customers how your programs fit and enhance their daily lives, and their most personal environments.

Program benefits go far beyond financial savings – the deeper drivers for participation are personal and emotional: Health. Safety. Reliability. Productivity. Control. Comfort. Where do these fall in your conversations with customers?

3.) Give context. For everything.

This industry struggles with meeting participation and savings goals, and continues to saturate the market with messages like:

·      “Sign up for e-bill now!”

·      “Schedule a home energy audit today”

·      “Save energy, save money!”

The truth is that energy efficiency programs and products may be beneficial, but are not essential. They’re not even on the customer radar. And it’s a much harder sale than the commodity itself.

While simple messaging is critical, this industry owes customers context. What is the “why” for what you want customers to do? What are the relevant benefits to the audience you’re selling to?

We were reminded of the saying, “Customers don’t want to buy a ¾ inch drill bit. They want to buy the ¾ inch hole.”

What are your programs and products in context of the ¾ inch hole?

4.) Personalized information is key.

We’re going to say it again. Big data yields big savings.

Home energy reports are taking the “what” out of kilowatt, and gifting customers an easy way to understand and engage with the energy they’re purchasing.

And talk about context… Allowing customers to see where they rank in the neighborhood champions an effort to have smarter energy behavior all in itself. Without hosting a contest, you are creating one which indirectly motivates communities to make smarter decisions. Who doesn’t want to win?

Providing this information is an opportunity to gain customer trust through greater transparency. Prove to your customers that you’re their partner. Communicate that you’re giving them the keys to better understand how they’re running their home and what they’re actually paying for.

When the reality is that customers think their homes are already energy efficient, that they use less energy than they used to, and that their bill is constant… You really have no option but to provide them the proof.

5.) Be persistent with relevant and prioritized actions.

Over the last week, we heard and asked about persistence over and over again. How do we really make smart behavior stick? How do we continue participation in a program that needs maintenance? As we know, energy efficiency is not one and done.

It comes down to using and providing the right data with the right context. Remember: customers are already confused on why you’re trying to help them save money, and then you’re offering 11 different programs to help them do so. Some are relevant. Some are not. It’s an overwhelming process and the customer doesn’t know where to begin.

Persistence with all 11 programs will not help. We want to be persistent with the right programs for your customer. Being a trusted energy advisor is not pushing all your offerings, but a prioritized list of actions.

Stop educating (customers are bored of it) and get actionary. Give customers fewer solutions, yet be more prescriptive. Nudge them on the next step in how to better control their energy bills and the deeper benefits of energy efficiency. Stop selling all 11 of your programs… and focus on the top five.

Lauren Bell / Engagement Manager / 802.862.8261 / lbell@ksvc.com 

Topics: Customer-Centric Marketing, Customer Engagement, Customer Insight, utility communications, Utility Marketing, energy efficiency

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