Energy Widgets On The "MyAccount" Page
Over the last decade the energy landscape has become more customer-centric, increasingly digital, and with the increased deployment of time-of-use and demand based rates, more complex for the end consumer.
As a result, utilities across the country are looking for wants to improve user experience, cut down on calls to the support center, and drive participation in DSM programs. It's been well established that digital energy portals accomplish all three of these goals, but getting users to log into these portals remains a challenge.
The solution may very well be bite-sized analysis that lives where the customer already spends their time, the 'MyAccount" page in the form of energy analytics widgets.
A Frustrating Journey
Agentis has spent the past decade mapping customer journeys to better understand how business accounts interact with their energy provider, and most of our findings shouldn't surprise you.
- Most businesses already use the utility MyAccount page to pay their monthly bill
- These interactions are highly transactional... the majority of users navigate directly to "pay my bill" and rarely visit other pages or click on promotions
- When users do have a question they immediately they jump right to the contact information page, bypassing FAQ's and even chatbox options
The user journey today is largely linear, and thats costly for the utility and frustrating for the customer. However, the strong baseline familiarity with MyAccount presents a massive opportunity. If energy providers could divert even a small amount of traffic toward programs and incentives, DSM participation would skyrocket. If utilities could proactively explain high bills before the customer even looks for the contact center phone number they could reduce call volume substantially. Finally, our research has shown that customers are hungry for data. Presenting usage trends or comparisons to peers increases overall satisfaction even when no immediate action is taken by the account.
Attention, Interest, Education
Energy widgets like the example below serve three primary functions. First and most importantly, they alter the course of the standard customer journey by using visuals to capture attention. Getting a user to pause, even briefly, opens the door for a new path along the journey, and we've found that dynamic graphics are highly effective at increasing the average time on page.
From there, the widget has communicate value in terms the customer understands. Our research has shown that displaying dollar value estimates, in place of kWh or demand numbers, is more effective for driving interest in the data.
Finally, the widget needs to educate the customer. What are they looking at? Why should they care? How can they act? Teaser calls-to-action help the customer justify an extra click and sub increase traffic to additional pages.
Why Do Customers Prefer Widgets?
Business customers typically have a lot on their plate. A facility engineer might be tasked with managing energy expenditure, for example, but that’s just one of the many responsibilities she carries. With so much multi-tasking going on, being able to see a summary of essential energy data all in one place is breath of fresh air.
To back up these concepts, Agentis interviewed dozens of real business customers as part of our ongoing Voice-of-Customer research. Respondents across five segments and several levels of energy literacy consistently expressed interest in prominently displayed, high-level summaries and tips that are located front and center on the webpages they already frequent. In a nutshell, by using widgets on the MyAccount page, users get a snapshot of the information they care about most.
Expanding In-Depth Analysis
However, many more sophisticated users want to drill down into the data displayed on a widget. While traditional energy widgets typically display high-level information only, Agentis technology allows for a much deeper and more meaningful experience. Essentially, each energy widget retains the full functionality that a user would find in the stand-alone portal, without ever navigating out of the MyAccount page. When users click on a widget for more detail, Agentis provides pop-up modals that enlarge the analytic displays instead of rerouting users to additional pages.
This streamlines the user’s experience to a remarkable degree, and it comes with another big perk: This also means that the hyper-personalized energy solutions, products, and behavioral tips generated by the Agentis portal retain their targeting within the MyAccount modal.
Here’s What You Can Do With Widgets
- Do the math for them
Academic research has proven that people are more likely to take action if they have a frame of reference. Energy comparison widgets provide users with contextual information about how they compare to similar peers, as well as to their own historic performance.
More specifically, Agentis compares average performance for off-hour shutdown with the top-performing businesses within the same segment to give users a hint at whether their business is using a reasonable amount of energy. Similarly, Agentis helps users understand their overall energy trends by providing visual benchmarks to past energy usage/costs.
At the end of the day, these comparisons give energy customers a better understanding of what “good” energy usage means to their business. With greater understanding comes a greater appreciation of the broader landscape of energy efficiency among their peers. By making it easy for business owners to stay informed about their energy usage, utilities are more likely to be viewed as caring, energy leaders who make an effort to save their customers money.
- Provide granular energy information with GreenButton Download
More advanced users, especially those at large industrial businesses require a greater level of understanding compared to small and mid-sized businesses with low-moderate energy usage.
These C&I accounts often want access to granular energy information, and widgets can deliver! GreenButton data downloads can be enabled within the widget to provide access to high-quality energy data at the push of a button. By saving the customer valuable time, the overall digital experience is improved.
Guess what inspires the most calls to business support hotlines? Questions about bills. According to research by Deloitte, approximately 47% of calls to these hotlines are driven by questions around unexpected bill changes.
Widgets reduce the burden on your call center by providing a proactive explanation of the factors that impact a customer’s bill such as hot weather, changes in plugload, and days in a billing cycle.
Heatmap widgets are another valuable tool to solve customer problems without resorting to hotline calls. For larger customers with demand-based rates, a visual display of high-intensity demand spikes can help customers pinpoint issues themselves before hopping on the phone. Heatmap widgets provide the customer with an additional layer of understanding when they are searching for answers about billing changes.
Good digital customer experience allows customers to understand their energy usage, identify problems, and take action with ease. “Solution tile” widgets displaying energy-saving tips, program suggestions, or even qualifying rebates can increase customer satisfaction while simultaneously boosting participation in your DSM programs.
Based on the usage of these solution tiles, link click analysis can measure user intent and supply a list of leads to your energy efficiency marketing teams. If a customer clicks on a solution tile about lighting retrofits, for example, but doesn’t follow through by submitting a request for information, they have expressed interest and would be a good candidate for direct follow-up from you program outreach team.