Control, Transparency and Choice

By Jack Doueck

Last week I biked along the ocean of the Jersey shore. It was a long ride and I felt good. 

I felt healthy. So when I stopped at a 7-11 for a bite to eat – I was looking for a healthy snack. 

Then I looked at the assortment of “health bars” and read the labels to see which one was really healthy, natural, and nutritional. As I was doing this I thought “what do I really want from food? I want to control what ingredients end up in my body. I want full transparency as to what the item truly contains and what the heck these ingredients really are. And I want to be able to choose which ones I want.”

Control. Transparency and Choice.

That’s it.  It’s what we want from every product we consume and every service we buy. Is energy any different?  Do customers want to control how much electricity they use? Do they want to really understand their bill and how much they are paying relative to others? Finally, can we give them competitive choices? Those are the three questions for retail energy executives to answer in 2019. 

We have decided that the theme of the Energy Marketing Conference on October 11th 2018 will be: “Control, Transparency and Choice.”

More and more retail energy providers are realizing that their customers have these needs, and they are addressing them with specific programs and services that give them a sense of satisfaction. 

Control: More and more retail energy providers are offering products and services that give customers control over their energy usage. Smart thermostats allow customers to control the temperature in their homes via their smart phones. LED lighting can reduce energy consumption by up to 80% compared to incandescent bulbs. Companies like Griddy are putting wholesale energy buying (without a retail markup) in consumers’ hands for an annual subscription fee.  Residential, small commercial as well as large C&I customers are asking for more control, and the best of breed REPs are working hard to provide that to them.

   

Transparency: Retailers have realized that the goal of “Don’t awaken the sleeping giant” is a bad game and a terrible business strategy.  Just a few years ago retailers using the local utilities’ POR model, have told me explicitly: “Jack, we are not interested in customer engagement strategies because, to be perfectly honest, we don’t want our customers to even know that we are providing the electricity!”  Today the top retailers are providing more than just a commodity.  They are offering monitoring services and usage comparison apps and lots more.  My company does a private label customer engagement program that has proven one thing: customers want to know who their providers are and they want to know a lot more.  Retention has skyrocketed and churn is down more than 50%.

Choice: About 20 years ago the notion of energy deregulation was about offering customers the choice of energy suppliers – with the hope that competition would reduce cost.  This worked well in Texas, but the jury is still out everywhere else. People want to choose – especially in this country.  So retailers are offering multiple choices of products and services.  Fixed pricing, custom pricing, and special innovative marketing techniques such as “free weekends” are all examples of giving customers more options without over-complicating the sales process.

All six panels of our panels at the EMC will use this theme in their discussions:

Panel #1 is entitled: “Customer Engagement: Meet Your Customers.”

Panel #2 is ““Wholesale Meets Retail.”

Panel #3 is “The State of Distributed Energy Resources.”

Panel #4 is “Love/Hate Relationships: REPs and Brokers.” 

Panel #5 is “The State of Mergers and Acquisitions in Retail Energy.” 

The sixth panel is our CEO Round Table Discussion.

Join us for our 10th Energy Marketing Conference in New York City on October 11th 2018.  This promises to be our largest event ever with about 700 attendees, 70 exhibitors, 8 executive workshops, 50 speakers, and the best networking opportunity in the history of retail energy. 

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Jack Doueck is the Co-Founder of Energy Marketing Conferences, LED PLUS and Advanced Energy Capital.