More than 95 utilities have used behavioral efficiency and behavioral demand response to change the way their customers use energy. At PowerUp, we announced a new set of tools to help our partners take their DSM programs even further. Inside Opower will give utilities a crystal-clear window into their program successes and more control over their program content. Home Energy Report recipients will get a fresh set of experiences. And new software for segmentation and targeting will open up unprecedented opportunities to personalize the customer experience.
Dan and Alex closed their keynote with a big reveal. By leveraging the same core competencies that has helped people save 6 billion kilowatt-hours of energy, Opower is extending its efforts to tackle a new challenge: helping utilities take better care of their customers. Why? Because utility-customer interactions still have room for improvement. Most customers still have a hard time understanding their electricity bills, unsatisfying experiences with call centers, and low awareness of what programs their utilities have to offer. Globally, utilities spend $30 billion every year on customer operations. Our Customer Care solution will help them get more bang for their buck.
n Miami, Puget Sound Energy became the first utility to adopt the Billing Suite — our first Customer Care offering. PSE’s VP for Customer Solutions, Jason Teller, explained why. “PSE is embarking on a multi-year strategy to improve each customer touch point. We have worked with Opower since 2008 to engage customers in order to meet our energy efficiency goals. We are excited to extend our partnership with them to inject personalized insights into other touch points such as unusual usage alerts, seasonal readiness, and eBills to drive energy efficiency program participation and increase customer satisfaction.”
Toward the end of day one, our user experience and behavioral marketing experts gave PowerUp a crash course in behavioral design — equipping everyone with a toolkit of basic behavioral science principles, then turning them loose on a challenging behavioral science problem. Teams of utility leaders developed and shared their best ideas for inspiring residential water conservation. And everyone picked up some tips they can bring back to their day jobs.
From Coke to Amazon, companies worldwide are finding that greater personalization drives more sales. Nancy Hersh, Opower’s VP of Analytics, shared an example from her own life. “The first time you log onto wine.com, you see a selection of popular, entry-level wines that cost around $10. Up until this point, you were an unengaged user — so wine.com eases you in. “Over time, you start learning more about wine. So you get interested in bottles that might cost a little more. Wine.com starts recommending higher-level wines, in the $20 to $30 range. “I have a taste for wine. When I log on, wine.com looks at my personal history and suggests something in the neighborhood of $50 to $150.” The benefits are real. By giving customers personalized recommendations, wine.com achieved a 15 percent increase in order value and drove $5 per click on recommended wines. The broader takeaway — that companies should segment their customers not just by who they are, but by what they’ve done in the past — matters more than ever for utilities. Nancy went on to explain how previous behavior is a far better predictor of future actions (like enrolling in a utility program) than demographic or psychographic data.
PowerUp is all about helping utilities connect with their customers at moments that matter — including large-scale commercial and industrial customers. Swap Shah, CEO of FirstFuel, shared how his company is using a deep analytics platform to help Southern California Edison engage businesses. And as SCE’s Christine Evans explained, Opower and FirstFuel are helping her utility deliver a seamless, end-to-end customer engagement solution that benefits consumers and SCE alike.
This summer, utilities from California and Michigan to Maryland and Vermont used Behavioral Demand Response to curb peak demand on the hottest days of the year. It was a huge success: energy savings climbed as high as 5 percent, without a single price or device. Our utility partners aren’t the only ones who like BDR. Their customers do too. In a poll, 78 percent of homes that participated said they were satisfied with the experience. And as Jim Merriam (Efficiency Vermont) and Heather Anderson (Baltimore Gas and Electric) pointed out, you usually can’t get that many people to agree on anything. Just 75 percent say they like ice cream, and 64 percent say they like the beach.
We were proud to welcome more than 300 of the world’s leading utility innovators to Miami last week. But not everyone could make it. So at PowerUp, Dan and Alex announced SyncUp — a year-long series of regional summits for our utility partners.