Visualizing Customer Data: See Clearly, Act Quickly

By Malcolm Smith

Data visualization is a powerful management tool. As humans, we intuitively grasp pictures faster than words or numbers. For decision-makers at retail energy suppliers, a picture is truly worth a thousand words. That applies to acquiring customers, too.

Visuals for acquiring customers. A leading solar company uses data visualization to put potential customers at ease instantly, by showing them they’re not alone. This company displays a map of their existing customers in the same area as a prospective customer (below). The implicit message in the visual is powerful: “Your neighbors are with us. You should be, too.”

Mapping tools make this kind of real-time data presentation a cinch. Data can now be overlaid by zip code, county, metro area, state—whatever level of detail puts your customer base in the most reassuring light.

  There’s a lot of orange around you. That means you’re in good company.”

Seeing retention cycles. Each customer you keep is more profitable than each one you acquire—because the cost of acquisition far outweighs the cost of retention. Do you know how many customers you have coming up for retention? How many you just successfully retained?

By seeing trends in renewal dates, you’re in a position to re-allocate your precious marketing resources most effectively from week to week.

“That’s a big donut. I better start thinking 90 days ahead right now.”

Competitive information. Some of the most actionable data involves seeing your company’s position compared to that of your competitors. Platform providers in retail energy are increasingly allowing their customers to opt in and share anonymized competitive data.

A picture that compares your performance to that of your competitors is powerful in management meetings, in the board room and with investors.

“We’re ahead of many but way behind others. Is 80% a realistic goal?”

Seeing is believing. Data visualization is a powerful tool. By summarizing data in pictures, trends become obvious and insights appear. You and your team are then empowered to act. The more data you have, the more important visualization becomes.


Malcolm Smith is CEO of DR2 Solutions