A Behaviour-First Approach in Energy Customer Engagement

With a whole spring and summer of conferences cancelled, we thought our industry could use a good webinar series on Energy Customer Engagement. After all, we must keep the discussion going and expose ourselves to new ideas.

Last Friday, we hosted our first webinar, named “Can customers care?” and had the opportunity to learn from Guy Champniss, who runs applied behavioural science consultancy Meltwater as well as Eliq CEO and founder, Håkan Ludvigson.

If understanding behavioural science is useful or important for designing digital services and changing customer behaviour, then it is absolutely crucial when it comes to something that has so little share-of-mind among its users as energy.

Netflix — a story of behaviour-first innovation

Netflix is often bought up as an example around the personalisation of content to the customers through insights — which is very relevant and something we do at Eliq as customers now expect personalisation.

However, in the webinar, Guy brought up a more powerful and, on the surface, simpler example. Netflix designed their proposition for the customer need (watch films at home), and then shifted how that was delivered as technology evolved — from DVD’s in Jiffy bags to streaming on the internet (read more here or get the book).

Technology push or market pull

The Netflix story is a great example of Market Pull, as are Uber, Airbnb, Zoom (another household name in tech, as of late) and many others. Once in a while, a technology push makes its way across into the mainstream, an example in the energy industry such as rooftop solar panels, which deliver clear and obvious value in a single way to a large number of people.

Yet, the energy industry is full of technology-first companies approach digitalisation of the industry through “how can we help utilities extract value from their data?”. We believe the approach is what has put all too many clunky energy products on the market, and in part can explain by the perception mismatch between energy companies believing themselves to be customer-centric (79%) and customers’ perception of the same (7%) (Infosys).

In our view, the reason the tech-push approach works poorly for utilities boils down to two main reasons:

Firstly, unless you’ve got a magical box that automatically cuts your bills (rooftop PVs…), energy is not going to get anyone excited the same way the first iPhone did; and a smart meter consumption graph gets about 4%* of your customers going.

Secondly, and most importantly, forget the silver bullet. Energy is not a single use-case and its customers are not specialised segments. It’s everyone, all the time. And there isn’t a magical proprietary algorithm that will make all of it better. Rather, you’ll need to address dozens of personas across hundreds of use-cases with numerous features, hedging for the countless edge cases. It’s not gamification, smart alerts, disaggregation, smart energy advice, bill forecasts or even a beautiful, user-friendly UI; it’s all of those things at once, in appropriate doses at the right times.

Can customers care about energy?

Customers care now more than ever. In our most recent user survey, 91% of users could attribute behavioural changes to their Eliq-powered energy app and 62% were able to point to purchase decisions where they had trusted their energy insights for making their decision.

Get in touch

If you are passionate about solving real customer problems and want to to help utilities activate their customers to take part in the energy transition, Eliq is hiring.

Or if you’re with a utility and are looking to engage your customers and digitise your customer relationship — we’re always keen to have a virtual ☕ and a chat. Or get in touch (hello at eliq dot io) to join us for the next webinar or access the recording of this one.