Peak energy demand credits are great. They put less stress on utility infrastructure, reduce wasted electricity and give many customers a discount on their bill.
But none of those benefits are possible if utility customers don’t know about them. Or just as unfortunate, they know but choose to ignore them.
Fortunately, there are a few ways to get customers excited about peak energy demand credits. You just need a few communication channels already in your tool box. And if you’re not sure what to say, we’ve got some tips to pass along the message.
What is Peak Energy Demand?
Every day has periods of peak hours, generally two- to four-hour windows in the morning and afternoon when home activity increases, known as peak energy demand. Off-peak hours include all times outside these windows when utility customers tend to use less electricity.
But peak energy demand is much higher on some days than others. On days that are unusually hot, for example, overuse of air conditioning (A/C) and other appliances can cause stress to the electrical grid.
So many utilities offer rebates to customers who reduce energy usage during these times. This could be $1.25 off their bill for every kWh of reduced usage during a two-hour window. Utilities use terms like “time-of-use pricing,” “time-variant pricing” or “peak energy savings credit” to describe this discount.
Shifting energy away from peak energy demand hours is beneficial for both energy providers and users. But you must proactively promote any discounts, too, so follow these tips to let electricity users know when peak energy demand credits become available and get them excited about taking part.
1. Make it a Sale
The retail industry has known the benefit of a good sale for years. With a widespread reduction on price, customers flood into stores looking for a great deal. In essence, the same holds true for peak energy demand credits.
Instead of offering a peak energy demand credit throughout the year, choose a few short-term periods of especially high usage to promote. For example, credit accounts that use less electricity during a three-hour period only on the hottest days this summer.
This creates a psychological effect, presenting the rebate as a can’t-miss opportunity. But how do you choose an initial time frame?
- Start by selecting a season of the year. Summer is a common choice when people stay inside with A/C.
- Watch forecasts to find the warmest days. A/C will be running heavily on those days, so cutting extra energy use during peak hours will create the most benefit to the grid.
- Consider your business activities, as well. If you need to perform maintenance on key pieces of infrastructure during a peak usage time, it may help to decrease total demand.
2. Offer Specific Tips
Letting customers know when to earn peak energy demand credits is good. But showing them how to earn the credit is even better.
For some, simply knowing about a discount won’t be much help. They may remember to turn off a few more lights, but those consumers need a little nudge to understand the full benefit.
When sending a text, email or phone call, don’t just say, “Rebates will be offered for reduced energy use during this period.” Use a follow-up text to tell them to avoid doing laundry. Wait a little longer to take a shower. Cook dinner earlier in the day. Run the dishwasher later that night. All these daily activities become habits that people sometimes forget. Help your customers get off auto pilot and change their habits for a day.
3. Use Their Preferred Channel
This tip holds true for all your communication, whether you’re discussing peak energy demand or an overdue bill. People have many ways to communicate now, and each person uses their favorite. Sally likes texting. John prefers email. And Burt still chats with an old-fashioned phone call.
You’ll get in touch with many of your customers using any one of these channels. But you’ll get in touch with more of them by diversifying. Plus, customers are much more receptive to new ideas when contacted on their channel of choice.
Call Sally or John, and they may see the suggestion as old school and tired. But send a text to Burt, and he may see it as spammy or complicated. If you’re running a peak energy campaign, West has proactive outbound voice and text tools that can help. A robust ecosystem of channels creates the best experience for both the utility provider and customer.
Download our tip sheet, Connecting with Utility Customers, for more advice on how to connect with your customers.
4. Connect Channels
Using customers’ channel of choice is a great way to improve service, but it doesn’t come without its dangers. When companies go beyond a single channel and start including mobile, social, chat or other options, they often fail to create effective connections.
Without that step, functions, data and enterprise-wide visibility suffer. Customers may receive the same message multiple times or be asked for the same information twice. That can cause them to feel overwhelmed, so your desire to improve satisfaction will actually lead to worse results.
In addition to low satisfaction, you could see lower operational productivity, reduced financial returns and overall lower efficiency. So take advantage of new channels, but be careful to send only one message to each customer and share data from all responses enterprise wide.
5. Get Customers to Trust You
Lastly, and most importantly, you need to generate trust. The channels and words you use mean nothing if customers don’t see your company as trustworthy. Build trust in everything you do, but in regards to communication, start with these steps.
Evaluate mutual value to the company and your customers to set your goals. It’s not feasible (or wise) to make every improvement at once, and jumping to an advanced channel may cause people to question your motives. For example, if you only communicate through inbound and outbound voice calls, customers might be confused if you suddenly announce a new social media bot.
Organizations that primarily offer voice customer service should start by exploring automation systems. This includes creating a seamless integration between their interactive voice response (IVR) system and contact center. Those with a mobile outlook might start with SMS texting to reduce inbound costs and provide convenience.
No matter the route, cross-channel visibility into customer behavior and data is vital to the next step in the journey. Wherever you are in your journey, West can set up the next logical communication step for you. Then expand with steady progress and show customers you’re committed to their long-term happiness.
Peak Success for Peak Energy Demand Promotion
Of course, no matter how much planning goes into your promotion, it’s important to manage your expectations. Your peak hours will still be your busiest, but they should cause less stress.
By following these strategies and sending the right message on the right channels, you can successfully mitigate pressure on the electrical grid and achieve more balanced electricity usage throughout the day.
For even more advice like this, read about the best summer uses of inbound communication tools for utilities. And feel free to call or text a West Interactive Services expert at 800.841.9000.
Follow these steps to share your off-peak hours promotion and show your full potential as a truly trusted provider.