Clever stuff is being developed in the world of energy insights. That's the name given to products (usually app or web based) that help households understand where their energy consumption and costs go to provide greater transparency of their bills, and help determine how they might go about modifying their behaviour to reduce their bills should they wish.
Teams of data scientists are grappling with issues such as generating accurate bill forecasting bringing in third party data, or disaggregating different functions or appliances in the home, or alerting customers to unusual consumption patterns to limit wastage or informing them of danger signals of imminent appliance breakdown. As I said, clever stuff.
However, many suppliers are grappling with a seemingly simple, and equally mind bending issue of what customers actually want from energy consumption data and insight. We might know what they don't want. Kilowatt hours is a foreign language. Telling them something they can't do anything about is as pointless at keeping notes of your monthly car fuel costs, when you can’t do without your car or limit your journeys. And any inaccuracy such as discrepancy with their bills will only aggravate and reduce the precious trust your brand has built up.
We all know that energy is a low engagement sector, so customers aren't proactively illuminating the way ahead. But they are also not short of choice of things to do in seemingly diminishing windows of time, so they will not accept the mediocre, even if it is perceived to be free at the point of use. That leaves forlorn energy suppliers to visualise a product that will cut through this conundrum, invest time, resource and pour money into building, iterating and bringing to market a product for which there is no guaranteed return on investment. All in the name of customer engagement.
Customers don't make it easy, and for good reason. They generally haven't given it much thought. Even if they have, they would struggle to articulate their thoughts and opinions. And they are in their home, their place of sanctuary, surrounded by the people and things they love, so really they don't have much time for this.
We are also irrational beings at best, so whilst someone may not want to know how much a luxuriously long shower will cost for fear of spoiling the experience, that same person may want to know how much that annoying games console cost as evidence to limit their children's use of it! And we will undoubtedly change our minds tomorrow as this example satisfies just a fleeting moment of interest, regardless of how much work went in to extract this information. Once we know it, we'll have moved on, so solutions need to have enduring benefits to be compelling.
Successful players in this market will be those not necessarily with the shiniest and cleverest toy, as this could entail a lot of wasted effort, but those who can extrapolate meaning from what consumers say or demonstrate they want, and build the most effortless way of bringing value to customers and seamlessly integrating this solution into their lives. The art is blending the insight extracted from the data with a deep understanding of customer needs.
For guidance on what this would entail, register for our free webinar entitled ‘How to develop energy insight propositions as a tool for successful customer engagement’.