Utilities have the blessing and the curse of being in fairly constant communication with their customers. Customers receive a bill from them each month and, in some cases, might even have a friendly man or woman come out to read their meter regularly. Emails, text messages, bill inserts and other frequent communication from utilities typically result in strong brand awareness. But how do utilities get input from customers that informs their marketing – outside of the necessary, regularly scheduled messages?
The answer is pretty simple: ask customers if they want to provide input. Invite them to be part of an online panel, where they agree to participate in monthly or quarterly surveys that give you actionable feedback. Give customers the option to opt-in to receiving this type of communication from you. Today’s customers understand that providing feedback benefits them; it means they receive smarter, more relevant and more appealing messages. And for the utility, you get data that can support or negate things you believe to be effective.
How would you use this online panel? Here are a few things you might want to ask your customers:
- Are you able to find what you’re looking for on our website? How could it be improved?
- How and when do you prefer to hear from us?
- Which ad campaign resonates with you more?
- How was your experience taking advantage of our rebates? How could it be simplified?
- What type of insulation/thermostat/appliances, etc. do you use in your home?
This feedback can then be used to refine how you communicate with them – outlining ways to improve your existing channels and identifying new ways to reach them. It can pinpoint which creative approach is more likely to produce the desired action or help you personalize marketing messages based on individual features of their homes.
Often, it can uncover barriers to understanding the utility didn’t know existed. Customer insight is vital to effective and strategic marketing, and an online panel of engaged participants is a great way to get it.