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Consumer engagement is one of the biggest challenges facing utilities today. Identifying the messaging, programs and incentives that will get consumers on the energy-saving bandwagon and engaged in the benefits of a smart grid, smart meters, demand response, home energy monitoring and other energy efficiency initiatives is the challenge of utility consumer engagement. Fortunately there is extensive consumer engagement research available, from the use of behavioral science to customer segmentation marketing and best practices. This section provides news and resources on challenges and successes in consumer engagement for utilities.

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Georgia Power rolls out EV charging rebate for business customers

smart grid, modern grid, smart grid technology, electric transportation, EVs, EV charging, Georgia Power
As part of a multi-faceted electric vehicle transportation pilot, Georgia Power has begun an EV charging rebate program for its business customers intended to build interest in electric transportation. Read the story for details on the rebate program and why the utility is doing it.

Smart grid wins: a hectic pace for the energy storage sector

smart grid, modern grid, smart grid technology, smart grid companies
As you will notice, this week’s selection of smart grid wins focuses on the energy storage sector. It also includes news on customer engagement, a smart grid program for San Antonio and a project to enhance grid stability in Michigan.

Utilities: Is it finally time to institute pre-payment?

smart grid, modern grid, smart grid technology, electricity prepayment, Itron, policy and regulation, electric utilities
Prepaying for electricity is common and popular in several parts of the world, but hasn’t caught on in North America – even though many consumers, such as transient workers and college students – would prefer it. Is it time for utilities and regulators to take a closer look and consider a prepayment option?

What motivates consumers to manage their energy use? (It’s not just saving money)

smart grid, modern grid, smart grid technology, consumer engagement, smart grid benefits, Smart Grid Consumer Collaborative, managing energy use
If utilities and other stakeholders are to succeed in their efforts to get consumers more involved in their energy consumption, it would help to know what makes those consumers tick. The Smart Grid Consumer Collaborative has issued a new report on the different types of consumers, what they care about and insights on how to get them engaged.

Energy’s Big Data day is dawning (Learning what your customers really want)

smart grid, modern grid, smart grid technology, data analytics, customer engagement, smart grid strategies, electric utilities
Netflix knew it had a hit with the House of Cards miniseries, even before viewers saw it. What does that have to do with the energy industry? Guest author Adrian Tuck explains how a consumer-centric approach to Big Data can help electricity providers truly get in touch with their customers’ desires, and develop new revenue streams in the process.

Opower ups the ante with a new customer engagement platform upgrade

smart grid, modern grid, smart grid technology, Opower, customer engagement, electric utilities
Building on investments made earlier this year, customer engagement specialist Opower has added significant upgrades to launch its Opower 5.5 technology platform. The company says the new version will give utilities new capabilities to help them better identify and provide what their customers want.

New tools you can use for smart grid consumer education

smart grid, modern grid, smart grid technology, customer engagement, customer engagement strategies, Smart Grid Consumer Collaborative, electric utilities
With surveys over the past few years showing roughly half of electricity customers are aware of the smart grid, it is apparent some new approaches are in order to help them understand its benefits. Click to learn more about a series of videos from the Smart Grid Consumer Collaborative that could be a very good fit with utility customer outreach efforts.

Steal these ideas from PG&E's smart grid report

smart grid, modern grid, smart grid technology, customer engagement, customer education, PG&E
It isn’t enough for utilities to develop a smart grid that provides real benefits for customers. They also need to let customers (and regulators) know about those benefits in a way that’s meaningful to them. PG&E’s third annual smart grid progress report provides some valuable lessons on how to do it right.

What the iPod teaches us about utility customers (Hint: Your programs have a shelf life)

smart grid, modern grid, smart grid technology, customer engagement, behavioral energy efficiency, customer strategies
Of course it’s important to get utility customers involved in energy efficiency. Once accomplished, it’s even more important to keep them interested. Guest contributor Marie McKenna explains that while behavioral energy efficiency (BEE) has been a very effective tool, it shouldn’t be the only product on your program shelf. The parallels she draws with the discontinued iPod offer valuable lessons on why it takes much more to achieve lasting customer engagement.

The utility customer challenge: They like you but they are not loyal. Are you measuring the wrong things?

smart grid, modern grid, smart grid technology, consumer engagement, customer attitudes, electric utilities
Utilities are providing good customer service, most consumer say. But that doesn’t mean they would stick with their current electricity provider if given the choice. Click to read about the latest consumer survey from DEFG EcoAlign. It explains why measuring long-term loyalty could be more valuable than measuring customer satisfaction.

EcoPinion Consumer Survey: The Conflicted Consumer Landscape in the Utility Sector

DEFG commissioned a national survey of utility customers to glean more insights on what utility customers may value from their utility. The top line findings from EcoPinion No. 19 show a conflicted consumer landscape in terms of customer expectations. The survey report addresses those conflicts and provides information intended to help utilities improve overall customer satisfaction.

Utilities: Don't screw up privacy the way you screwed up smart meters

smart grid, modern grid, smart grid technology, data privacy, smart meters, electric utilities
Remember the early days of smart meter rollouts, when utilities generally didn’t think to familiarize customers with the new technology first? Many customers didn’t like the idea and said so. Several years later, and data privacy has become a sensitive issue. To avoid history repeating itself, Illinois is planning a “privacy framework” for the state’s utilities. Click for details.

74% of U.S. utilities are flunking mobile (the East is best, the South is worst)

smart grid, modern grid, smart grid technology, social media, digital technologies, mobile apps, customer engagement, electric utilities
The migration to mobile is evident in almost every industry. But at a time when people buy clothes, check bank statements or make reservations by phone, the U.S. electric power industry seems to be far behind. There are stunning exceptions of course but many, many utilities seriously lag in their adoption of digital technologies. A new report from Booz Allen offers some suggestions for how they can catch up.

The 5 essentials for better customer engagement

smart grid, modern grid, customer engagement, customer engagement srategy, electric utilities
Most utilities have customer engagement programs of some kind by now. But are they doing enough, doing it right? Guest author Martin Milani explains why a comprehensive strategy that cost-effectively engages customers across all touch points and programs is far better than stand-alone solutions. And he shares proven approaches for ensuring meaningful engagement.

Digital Migration for Electric Utilities

Utilities have sought to expand digital migration, the movement of customer interactions away from traditional channels and into the digital space. Booz Allen has identified three areas of strategy to help utilities originate and expand their digital portfolios, attract customers to these digital offerings, and improve each interaction.

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