I recently received a home energy report (HER) on my Honeywell thermostat app. It showed my monthly heating and cooling usage, compared it to last year, provided some thoughts on what factors affected my usage, and offered tips to save money in the future.
The Quest to Increase Customer Engagement
I was intrigued that Honeywell would offer this service outside of a utility-sponsored program, as most HERs are provided. The Honeywell app also includes a marketplace to buy some HVAC-related products and find local home contractors who can provide HVAC services. Both offerings appear to be gaining traction with utilities and retail energy suppliers across the globe in their quest to increase customer engagement.
The widespread adoption of smartphones, mobile apps, and social networking tools has changed the way that consumers interact with their service providers. Utility customers are becoming more proactive and are expecting more insight into energy usage. The days of a once-a-month bill have morphed into potentially ongoing conversations and numerous points of contact that utilities need to embrace and exploit. Changing tools for engagement such as online, mobile, social networks, and marketplaces create a myriad of choices for utilities that seek to meet current customer expectations.
An Intersection of Technologies and Strategies
Between the distinct functions within a utility of general customer service and demand-side management (DSM) program management lies an intersection of technologies and strategies. These tools can merge the two areas to enhance customers’ experience with the utility and save energy in the process. The changes in consumer expectations brought about by companies like Amazon, Netflix, and others have led utilities to seek DSM software solutions that can lower the cost-to-serve and improve customer satisfaction and engagement.
Utilities are also under pressure to build fewer power plants, accommodate cleaner sources of fuel, and keep rates low. This has caused regulators to place higher priority on better customer service, increasingly incentivize utilities to pursue DSM, and improve their customer relationships. This same effect has occurred in regions experiencing deregulation, such as Texas, Europe, and Australia, which creates a more competitive marketplace. It also results in retail suppliers pursuing DSM offerings to differentiate themselves and evolve to become service providers in the eyes of their customers, rather than commodity providers.
Navigant Research’s new report Utility Customer Engagement through DSM highlights these trends and provides case studies of utilities and retail suppliers offering such products and profiles of vendors that provide such solutions. This market is getting ready for strong growth based on advances in methodologies and technology, utility willingness to try new means of customer outreach, and a myriad of other drivers for DSM in general and these products specifically.
Now back to my Honeywell HER to see how I can use less energy than my neighbors!
Tags: Demand-Side Management, Deregulation, Home Energy Report, Utility Transformations
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