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  • Energy

Mapping the Path to More Engaged Customers

For utilities, a thorough understanding of who customers are and what they want yields more targeted outreach—and better delivery of services.

ICF empowers clients to reap the benefits of evaluating the experiences of their customers, to help them meet their most ambitious customer service goals.

A gas and electric utility in Michigan needed help to increase customer engagement in its energy efficiency programs. The utility was not analyzing its customer data effectively or using the insights to design services that matter to customers.

ICF tackled the problem using a three-pronged approach.

  1. Customer segmentation — ICF analyzed data the utility was already collecting to identify trends and gaps. ICF also used data purchased through outside sources and propensity modeling to segment customers, and developed personas that clearly defined the customers most likely to participate in programs.
  2. Journey mapping — Because a customer’s experience is so heavily influenced by the contractor, ICF walked in the shoes of contractors and customers to uncover their perspectives on the end-to-end journey of participating in an energy efficiency program. ICF conducted in-depth interviews with program stakeholders and held a workshop with program staff to create the journey map, hypothesize experiences, identify pain points, and brainstorm quick wins.
  3. Action planning — Following research, ICF ran an action planning workshop with program staff to develop business plans aimed at resolving contractor pain points and devising engagement strategies for customers.

In short order, the program team implemented those action plans. Now, a streamlined online rebate reservation system saves contractors time. Enhanced training focuses on the content contractors want most (i.e., selling and marketing tips), delivered through live demos, quizzes, and role playing. And, an improved Energy Efficiency Directory and “tips for choosing a contractor” more easily funnel new customer leads to contractors.

Surveys of contractors after implementation showed much greater satisfaction with the program. ICF also launched a new customer outreach strategy that generated, on average, double the participation in the energy efficiency program in the test group compared with the control group.