How (and why) Reliant Energy pioneered in-home displays



By Jesse Berst


Over the past few months, we've spent time mapping out what some call "the customer journey." Thanks to smart technologies, electric power utilities can now help customers move a step at a time to full engagement and enablement â€' from simple bills, to personalized reports and recommendations, to online portals, and all the way to interactive, in-home displays (IHDs) and other smart energy devices for the home.


In April, we talked about the state-of-the-art in paper and email reports in an article that explained Duke Energy's path to a more engaged electric power customer. We followed that with a webinar on customer engagement featuring Duke Energy. (Click the link to view the slides or watch a replay.)


In May, we explained how Kansas City Power & Light uses a web portal to improve customer engagement. We followed that with a webinar featuring KCP&L along with behavioral scientist Dr. Paul Cole.


Now we're back to talk about the next stage in the journey -- in-home displays, giving consumers choice in how and where they engage with energy information in their daily lives. I have been researching the topic in preparation for a webinar on Wednesday, Oct. 17, featuring Reliant Energy. (Registration is free while space remains; click to reserve a spot.)

The path forward

Although Reliant does not yet have enough data for final conclusions, it believes anecdotally that the IHDs have significant retention benefits. "We were surprised by the amount of interest," Smith said. "There is a certain group that really wants to conserve and that automatically has interest. And there is an even bigger group who didn't think they would be interested - but once they try it, they become advocates and spread the word to others."


Although Reliant is further down the path than many utilities, its customer journey isn't over yet. Reliant markets the IHD program under the slogan "Insight. Choice. Convenience." Smith says Reliant is well along on the first two thanks in part to the Tendril IHD. Next up is "convenience," whereby Reliant will try to help customers with home automation.


"You need a diverse portfolio," Smith cautioned. "Some customers want information pushed to them. Some want a portal where they can visit on their own. And some want full interactivity."


To hear directly from Reliant's Mark Smith and from two Tendril experts â€' plus the chance to ask questions directly â€' join us Oct. 17 for "Customer Engagement with In-Home Displays." Click now to reserve a slot for the free Oct. 17 webinar (and to receive a copy of the slides and the frequently asked questions after the event).


Jesse Berst is the founder and chief analyst of Smart Grid, the industry's oldest and largest smart grid site. A frequent keynoter at industry events in the U.S. and abroad, he also serves on advisory committees for Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the Institute for Electric Efficiency. He often provides strategic consulting to large corporations and venture-backed startups. He is a member of the advisory boards of GridGlo and Calico Energy Services.