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Guy Champniss3/1/18 12:00 AM6 min read

Creating the better customer.

In 2014, we launched our flagship product, Marketplace, and in doing so pretty much created the market for online energy-related portals where utility customers could choose more efficient products, and know exactly how much more efficient they were, thanks to the Enervee Score. That has now resulted in Enervee’s Marketplace being offered by utility partners to their customers across the US and Europe, with more than 45M electric households and 5.7M gas only households able to use the tool. We’re proud of the impact Marketplace has had — and continues to have.

From the very beginning our focus has been on enabling the consumer to make a better choice. We were always confident that consumers would consistently choose more energy efficient if that choice was made available and was intuitive. From the outset, we were against the idea of a limiting choice set, with the utility deeming what they felt their customers should consider. It just felt wrong, and against the general flow of consumer empowerment. It also cut across the idea that behavioral science could help deliver the results without impinging on our right to have choices.

In addition, fresh research from Enervee highlights the danger of offering a reduced choice-set based on efficiency alone. US shoppers consistently name energy efficiency as a ‘top 3’ product attribute: over 35% of consumers polled select it as relevant in their decision (where price is relevant for 55%, and consumer reviews for 46%). But when asked to name the most important search attribute for a new appliance purchase, only 11% of consumers cite efficiency (price, 34% and reviews, 24%, n=200).

In other words, a restricted offer predicated on efficiency appears not to resonate with consumers.

This has consequences in terms of driving high quality traffic to the platform as well as raising strategic questions regarding being able to effectively compete against well-established online retailers.

Our research has consistently proved our belief of better choice—we as consumers choose more efficient products if that efficiency is presented as a credible, relevant and actionable attribute of the product. In other words, all the products still available, but with crucial additional information — an efficiency decision aid — layered onto every product. Not fewer options, but options, leading to better choices.

So far, so good. Now time to go further, better.

We’re proud of our journey and successes to date, for sure. But, in an environment where the basics of energy are changing beyond recognition, we have to keep challenging the Enervee proposition in order to refine and improve it.

We need to keep asking ourselves the question: What exactly is an energy provider buying when they buy Enervee?

An opportunity to deliver energy savings? An opportunity to engage? An opportunity to launch new services and realize new revenues? Yes, yes, and probably yes. But there’s a more fundamental answer to the question.

We believe energy providers buy Marketplace because fundamentally they want to improve (re-invent?) the relationship they hold with their customers. That relationship’s the key to unlocking all the value in energy savings, new services and new business opportunities, whatever those may be. It all starts with the customer.

More than 60 years ago, management academic Peter Drucker said it how it is: ”If we want to know what a business is, we need to start with its purpose. There is only one valid definition of any business purpose — to create a customer.”

Against a backdrop of change in the energy sector, utilities are looking to create (new) customers. Customers who can respond and benefit from this change, and who can drive benefits for the utility in the process. Utilities are looking to create better customers.

So what does a better utility customer look like?

Introducing The Enervee IDEAL Customer Platform.

We’ve given this question some serious thought. We believe utilities now need to focus on and create customers who are IDEAL:

I — Identifiable.

Recognising that energy customers are also active consumers means we need to be able to know when energy customers are in-market to make new purchases, so that we can offer the consumer the chance to choose better. We need to able to identify energy customers as in-market shoppers, wherever they may be.

D — Digitally-engaged

The more an energy customer interacts with their utility online, the more opportunities there are to help deliver better choices. In a market where utility customers interact with their energy provider for a total of just 8 minutes per year, this means providing customers with a rich variety of constructive reasons to turn to their utility for buying guidance and energy advice.

E — Energy-centric

Our ambition is for every purchasing decision to have energy efficiency as a salient criterion, even when the consumer is not overtly interested in energy efficiency. This in turn means using behavioral science and marketing to ensure every choice made has energy as a motivating component, for every consumer.

A — Actionable

Driving engagement is good, but on its own yields nothing for the energy provider. Being able to convert that engagement into achieving goals and objectives for the utility is key; it’s crucial to be able act on specific consumer behavior insights to ensure opportunities to add value are spotted and acted on at every opportunity.

L — Loyal

Loyal customers are not only more cost effective to serve, but they also tend to make more and deeper commitments to the business. Whilst loyalty is not necessarily something utilities have needed to consider in the past, with a range of new services emerging, as well as new competitors springing-up, understanding and delivering loyalty is crucial in the new energy landscape.

All of the above have been drivers, in their own way, for Enervee’s Marketplace over the last seven years. They’re now elevated to capture what Enervee’s capabilities are focused on, at its core. We call this the Enervee IDEAL Customer Platform, and it’s designed to create and deliver IDEAL customers for utilities.

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The Enervee IDEAL Customer Platform

Combining Enervee’s unique product-market data along with its capabilities across data, design, behavioral science and marketing, the IDEAL Customer Platform co-ordinates Enervee’s suite of applications and engagement services to focus on meeting utility client objectives through creating the IDEAL customer. More specifically, Enervee’s data and capabilities across the platform open-up opportunities to understand and deliver across the key dimensions that make up IDEAL. This means Enervee will also be able to track and demonstrate growth in IDEAL customers, thanks to its behavioral tracking and insights capabilities.

What does this mean for the end-user?

Taking a step back, the IDEAL Customer Platform, with its focus on creating the better customer, reaffirms our founding belief that, given the right information in the right way and in the right context, we as consumers intuitively make better choices. This view drove us to create Marketplace with the tenet that, without choice, the consumer proposition will ultimately fail: the future lies in being empowered to make better choices, not being constrained by restricted choices.

This still rings true with the launch of the IDEAL Customer Platform and, with the applications and engagement services centered around the customer, the platform is positioned to deliver a seamless experience for that customer, across EE, DR and DER.This combination of better choice and seamless integration is a significant point of difference for Enervee when comparing our proposition with other providers of marketplaces, and utilities planning to licence a marketplace platform should look carefully at this distinction. They need to think carefully about which option would best serve their and their customers’ needs. It’s important to recognise that not all Marketplaces are created equal.

To make this distinction clear, alongside introducing Enervee’s IDEAL Customer Platform, we’re also re-badging how we and our energy partners speak to end-customers, in terms of what we call the end-result — the collection of apps and services all designed to improve consumer decisions.

Up until now it’s been the Enervee’s Marketplace. From this point on, it’s Enervee’s Ideal Marketplace.

Considering the other developments we’ve shared, this name may not come as a surprise, we agree. But in a market changing this fast, maybe one less surprise is not a bad thing…