While we haven’t done an exhaustive survey or complete analytics on this point, we still think it’s safe to declare this: Today the customer rules—even with utilities, which had, for most of their existence, a business model that favored product production over consumer consciousness.
But it’s a new world—brand new—from the technology to the thinking processes. And the customer is the nucleus of both that new tech and that new thinking, especially when it comes to the areas of demand-side management (DSM) and energy efficiency (EE).
In the old days of our old industry, those concepts revolved mostly around smoothing network functions and, well, producing that power product more efficiently (with an occasional assist from a large commercial customer now and again).
Today’s new thinking utility, however, allows for a groundswell of residential DSM programs driving an ever-better, ever-growing EE savings number that’s beginning dwarf statistical thinking (despite being mostly driven by residential and SMB customers).
Here's how we keep the momentum of those programs rolling.
Looking forward by looking back
Last year, we sat down with some of our partners in EE and DSM and put together an ebook on the subject. (That ebook, 4 DSM Strategies Your CCO Will Love, is still available online and for free right here.)
In that ebook, we laid out seven solid strategies to get you moving, including setting bigger, broader bolder goals for yourself beyond just savings (such as customer engagement and satisfaction) and benchmarking and validation feedback loops to drive smart thinking right down to the nuanced level.
We suggested questions a utility could ask internally to push progress forward—both big questions (What are all your initiatives running right now, and what are their current goals?) and bigger (Do your goals keep your customer at the forefront?)
And we had some advice also—both big and bigger—including:
But let’s assume you’ve done that homework and would like to push down even farther into the DSM/EE space. You’ve got that low-hanging fruit and built those CCO-loving strategies and are now looking beyond.
Where do you go from here?
Pushing in those brass tacks and building up from there
Your brass-tack moment for DSM/EE is every engagement, every discussion (good or bad) that can lend itself to a larger conversation. That’s something you’re already aware of and are trying to do more regularly, pushing enrollment and expanding education about your programs in place and your programs to come.
But you can do more. And our top suggestion: layer, add definition, add options, add that nuance.
Perhaps you’ve already trained to your CSRs to talk to more active callers about programs. Perhaps you’ve also sent flyers out and done some education outreach to all customers. Perhaps you’ve even started sending out alerts to some customers warning them about a potential high bill for the next month. Have you thought about adding to those high bill alerts with potential DSM solution and program options to keep driving those EE savings (along with improving customer satisfaction and potentially lowering call volume if they can sign up online)?
Those nuanced and layered approaches to customer conversations—from high bill alerts to peak management program options to digital home energy reports and how each can help the customer save money and the world save energy—can drive your EE further.
Those savings maybe incremental at this point, but incremental can add up quickly—a kWh here and a kWh there add up to a TWh or 20 when we’re all in that savings game together.
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