It’s no understatement to say 2020 served the nation a massive curve ball. Every prediction and projection for the year was turned upside-down by COVID-19. We learned what “social distancing” was, stocked up on hand sanitizer and face masks, and adapted to ordering groceries online. Now, utilities are struggling to engage those same customers who have been quarantining in their homes for months.
Face-to-face or other traditional program approaches may have been the key to savings in the past, but they just aren’t cutting it anymore. Crisis calls for the ability to quickly pivot from the old—in-person energy audits—to the new—virtual interaction and a renewed emphasis on kit programs. But what does new look like, especially when it comes to utility kit programs?
Focus on the Customer
In today’s day and age, any successful kit program is all about the customer. Once that piece fits, the rest falls into place. Customers live in a fast-paced world, and they want everything easy and streamlined. They want to feel understood and receive offers that are relevant to their real, personal needs. Not some generic mailer they’ll throw away the first week of every month.
So, how do you make it happen? The first step to buying a good gift is to know what the gift receiver likes, wants and needs. The same is true for your utility customers. You can’t go on a politician-style tour around your community kissing babies and getting to know everyone individually, but you can achieve a similar result by creating customer personas. In a nutshell, a customer persona takes the data and research you’ve done on your target audience and splits them into categories.
For example, when it comes to segmenting a service territory based on attitude toward energy efficiency, you may have four personas:
- Green innovator
- Tech-savvy protégé
- Movable middle
- Energy indifferent
Your kit program could incorporate a marketing strategy that focuses on the personas most likely to convert, and it could even utilize a home and lifestyle quiz to provide your utility with additional insight into each customer’s preferences during the enrollment process. Once that quiz is completed your customer is offered a semi-custom kit based on their answers—they love it because it fits their needs.
You can also take participation a step further and offer program cross-promotion and add-on products based on what was learned in the quiz. For example, your green innovators or tech-savvy proteges will probably appreciate low-case smart home add-on products, while your movable middle will likely benefit from learning about your demand response or alerts program. In addition to presenting these options, you could even automate nurture campaigns to encourage deeper engagement.
Are you still with me? Or did you stop reading after you hit the phrase “semi-custom kit?”
In the past, personalized or even semi-personalized kit options were a nightmare to offer and coordinate. Their high costs made it tough for utilities, and the logistical challenges made it impossible for many vendors. But AM Conservation Group is changing the game with extensive e-commerce fulfillment capabilities—and their cost for semi-custom kits is comparable to a standard single-kit program.
The concept of a personalized box of product being mailed directly to someone’s home is so popular that everyone from makeup to smoothie companies are jumping on the trend. If there’s a product to be sold, there’s a delivery box that will drop it off at your doorstep. And the box your utility is offering is even more valuable because it pays for itself on the savings it returns. Plus, how cool does your utility look by sending out a fancy box?
Get creative with it and have fun along the way, and your customers will be more excited to get it than they are about the latest unboxing video that’s trending online. The keys to a box everyone will love include:
- An eye-catching box design that shows off your brand
- A branded enrollment website for customers to sign up
- A box filled with measures your customers will actually like
Your kit could include a smart thermostat if you’re looking for something new and different. Or advanced powerstrips and LED light bulbs. Or give it a water theme and include sprinkler-head replacement nozzles and outdoor water-saving products. The options are endless.
Plan for Evaluation
Okay, now I know you’re no longer with me, because talking about evaluation isn’t exactly a fun topic. But it is important, and it’s the hallmark of a successful kit program. Plan for evaluation up front, because you can’t claim savings you can’t prove. When working in an environment where you don’t have an employee on-site to verify direct installation, the most cost-effective way to claim savings is to incorporate product choices and an installation verification survey into your program.
At the end of the day, customer satisfaction is just as important as claimed savings, so make sure you ask your customers for feedback. Add in a Net-Promoter Score® survey to gauge how customers felt about the experience. Any surveys you ask customers to take should be as easy as possible, which means an online responsive survey that can be completed on a phone, computer or tablet. Send them a text reminder with the survey link to make their participation easy. Even if they forget to check their inbox and miss your reminder email, they can’t overlook a text message.
Sounds easy, right?
The good news is, your utility doesn’t have to do it alone. We’ve developed KitPick™, an interactive and dynamic kit portal to help you achieve your goals. It includes everything mentioned above and more, and it’s officially live and ready for your utility to use. Contact us to talk about our kit program capabilities and get started with your own!