Your Customers Don't Trust Your EE Financial Messaging.

When it comes to inspiring the EE customer to participate in programs or to purchase an EE product, the typical industry message is rooted in the benefit of financial savings. And it makes sense.

Who doesn’t want to spend less on their energy bill?

But, KSV’s proprietary research tells us that the typical customer response to “savings” messages is rooted in distrust. Fundamentally, there is a lack of understanding and skepticism in why a utility would want customers to save money on their monthly bills.

Customers are thinking “How do I know I will actually save money, or actually be paid back for these expensive upgrades? And how long will that actually take?”

One residential homeowner is quoted “I’m just not sure if there will be a financial payoff to making the adjustments or that it would actually add value to my home.”

In a situation of uncertainty and distrust, how can you relieve these barriers?

One solution: Provide a guarantee.

92% of research participants state the lack of an energy and cost reduction guarantee as one of their top three barriers to EE program participation.

What guarantee can you provide? A reasonable payback period? Annual savings? Convenience?

Without a guarantee, you’re asking customers to trust you. Do better than that. Give them no option but to trust you, and be accountable for that. 

Building customer trust in your programs will only lead to increased customer satisfaction. And this is how you transform your energy company into an energy brand.

Lauren Bell / lbell@ksvc.com / 802.862.8261

 

What Resonates with the EE Customer: Saving Money or Wasting Money?

How do you inspire customers to participate in your EE programs? Do any of these sound familiar? "Lower your monthly bill!" or "Save on energy costs!" or "Save energy. Save money!"

We, as marketers, are communicating the benefit of financial savings to our customer. And for the most part, this message works.

So, we guide customers on ways they can save money program by program... But do they all really value this idea of savings?

The Consumer Federation of America reports that only 50% of Americans have good savings habits.

There's no denying that selling the financial benefits of participation or purchase can and do work. But is the message saturated, and uninspired?  

In a society of spenders, why do we constantly provide ways for our customers to save money? What happens if we talk to customers about the very opposite? 

While conducting proprietary consumer research, KSV asked utility customers all over the Northeast what inspired them more when it comes to taking action in EE program participation and/or purchase: Saving money? Or not wasting money? 

We were surprised to find an even split.

50% stated they were more inspired to participate and/or purchase when the result was financial savings. Is this an old habit response?

50% stated they were more inspired to participate and/or purchase when the communications were focused on not wasting money. Is this an opportunity response? 

Because we're spenders, one could argue that wasting money wouldn't resonate. (After all, we live in the Starbucks generation of $5 coffees.) But the truth is that customers want to spend their hard-earned money on things they want, not on the things they need.

Either way you spin it, your message is resonating. But if you find that your message is saturated, now could be your opportunity to reach that other 50% with just a simple change. 

Food for thought. Get in touch if you're interested in the full research report. We can even chat about it over a Starbucks. 

Lauren Bell / lbell@ksvc.com / 802.862.8261

Three Things to Consider with Energy Efficiency Messaging

Consumer Research Disrupts Conventional Thinking on

How to Get People to Embrace Energy Efficiency

Utilities and their marketing mavens may be speaking the wrong language to their customers, according to our recent proprietary consumer research.

You would think the chance to save money would motivate people to insulate their homes and replace energy-hogging appliances.

And you would be wrong.

KSV's research, conducted among families and businesses in the northeast U.S. earlier this year, tells us that the money people think they have to spend outweighs what they think they could save. What they really crave is comfort and well-being.

It appears to us that utilities are talking energy efficiency and potential dollars saved, and customers are seeking comfort.

That disconnect is a significant opportunity for utilities to retool their energy efficiency messaging.

Three things to consider...

  • Talk to the right customer, those ready to make a decision.
  • Stop talking about energy efficiency and start talking comfort.
  • Empower your customers with understanding.

There are four more such insights in our report, "What People Really Want to Know About Energy Efficiency." Reach out to Lauren Bell to get them.

Ashley Nicholls / 802.862.8261 / anicholls@ksvc.com

Part III – Residential Customers: The Energy Efficiency Conversation in Social Media

We’re focusing on how your residential customers engage with energy efficiency across their own social channels. In order to increase their participation in your energy efficiency programs, we want to first understand how/if they’re talking about energy efficiency with their friends. Is energy efficiency relevant to their conversations? If so, how are they talking about it?  On a personal and homeowner level, energy efficiency content tends to be focused around two primary conversation types: exploratory and experience sharing. Users look to social media to ask their peers about processes, costs, and benefits, relying on their extended personal networks to supply information about offers, opportunities, struggles and worth to these types of changes.

If the user has already gone through an energy efficiency program, the natural next-step is to share their experience on social networks, especially popular when regarding home upgrades. This content is often posted in hopes of gaining positive feedback from their networks and peers (“Your house looks great, Sarah!”), but also to help others make similar improvements to their homes and lives. With these types of posts, energy and cost savings tend to take a backseat at the beginning, with the topic instead focusing on the ease or difficulty of the switch itself. Later on however, the savings will play a headline in sparking further conversation.

More than ever, customers are also using social media as an outlet for customer service frustrations and praise. They want their friends to know if their ENERGY STAR appliance changed the entire look of their kitchen, or adds convenience to their day, etc. They also want friends to know if it doesn’t work properly or if they never received their promised rebate. When it comes to service or audits, the expectation is that poor reviews will receive faster resolution.

Our Thinking: Social engagement with personal and homeowner energy efficiency content tends to be quite high, with users answering the questions and supporting the interests, efforts and experiences of their peers. Whether or not this positive engagement leads to further outreach or action however, is still up to the efficiencies (or potentially, deficiencies) of their personal networks to decide.

Also see:

Three Pillars to a Social Media Strategy to Boost J.D Power Scores

The Energy Efficiency Conversation in Social Media (Part I – Industry)

The Energy Efficiency Conversation in Social Media (Part II - Small and Large Business)

One tactic to keep customers engaged in their EE customer journey.

shutterstock_157952597First Party Data. Is it invasive to use this tactic to create personalized connections with your customers?

Or, does it actually provide value by ensuring the messages customers encounter deliver a benefit from your brand?

Real quick, let’s define what we mean by first party data. It is personally identifiable data like email records, physical addresses and purchase history. It is information that is collected by a company in the course of serving its customers.

What does this mean for utilities when they are marketing energy efficiency to their customers?

It means utilities have a HUGE opportunity to acknowledge where the individual customer sits in their EE customer journey.

The journey is a long one when we consider the need to be made aware of the benefits, to be inspired to do research and finally to take action. And action can mean different things for different customers. LED bulbs are an easy entry point while appliance purchases require a greater need and willingness to invest. Utilities support this journey through offerings like rebates and audits, and should be capturing that 1st party data to inform personalized messaging going forward. This personalized messaging will not only push your customer to act, but also push them to participate in the next program, product or offering.

Through recent proprietary research and customer interviews, we know that customers’ most frequent response to energy efficiency is: “I just don’t know where to begin.”

First party data allows you to leverage data intelligence and place relevance in the paths of your customers. It allows you to personally show them not only where to begin, but also where to go next.

It’s time for utilities to embrace the fact that they have powerful data at their fingertips and that this data can sharpen their communications approach befitting the most important part of this relationship: the customer.

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The proprietary research mentioned was conducted on the barriers, benefits and motivations to participating in energy efficiency programs across Residential, Small Business and Large C & I audiences in the Northeast.

Get in touch, and we'll share the full report!

Adaptors vs. Solution Seekers

shutterstock_14192422669% of research participants state they find themselves adapting to inefficiencies in their homes and/or businesses rather than seeking solutions. Here’s what they said:

You have to educate someone about inefficient areas so they pay attention 

to it. They just assume some costs are constant and part of their daily lives. People just get used to it. They think it’s outside their realm of control.

- CEO, Global Software Company

“It’s all about ease and it’s become our habit to do the least expensive thing.”

                                                            - Small Business Owner, Healthcare Professional

“You come into the house and you put a sweater on, and you just kind of leave it at that.”

                                                            - Homeowner

KSV Customer Insight: People are normalized to everyday inefficiencies in their homes and/or workplace. It is only when these inefficiencies cause a disruption

in expectation that they are noticed.

So, how do you increase participation in programs that customers aren’t even aware they need?

Be the disruption in your customer’s expectation.

How do you that? We can help!

We recently conducted an in-depth research study on the barriers, benefits and motivations to participating in energy efficiency programs across Residential, Small Business and Large C & I audiences in the Northeast.

Get in touch, and we’ll share the full report!

Lauren Bell

lbell@ksvc.com

802.862.8261

Are you talking tech?

imgresUtilities are working hard to inspire their customers to take action on energy efficiency. There is great opportunity for these power providers to leverage consumers love for technology in this effort. Consumers covet technology across multiple daily experiences. It empowers, simplifies, enhances, excites, connects and creates efficiencies across so many needs and wants. Every day we are engaged with technology. The technology conversation is a great insertion point for utilities. So how should they do it?

By having a voice in the tech revolution that is defining contemporary times. The utility voice should be present in the "internet of things" conversation. This is where customers can be engaged in two things that excite them.

1. Emerging technology

2. Improving how they experience their homes

Here is an example of a utility (Reliant) that is doing just this by partnering with a high profile product (Nest).

Pretty cool, right?

Sure LEDS and high efficiency furnaces are rooted in evolved technology, but those purchases are not exciting. They are not toys like a mobile phone controlled air conditioner or thermostat is. Communicating around things like “you can turn your AC on from work when you are readying to head home.” Tech is cool and so is feeling like your mobile phone is a remote control capable of making your return home more comfortable and less expensive.

The energy efficiency conversation between utilities and customers is evolving from “you should do this” to “this is the benefit of doing it”. Given the love for and dependence on technology exhibited by today’s consumer, utilities need to develop a strong voice around technology enabled energy efficiency. Make it fun, make it about participating in a young yet promising tech revolution that is keeping people connected to controlling their home energy use remotely.