According to a new Consumer First Panel Report described in a recent post by Chris King of eMeter, consumers want better language, design and layout to help them understand their energy use information. “Clear information — in simple language — is crucial to making communication materials from energy retailers more effective. This involves improvements to the language, design and layout.”
The article goes on to describe how this information can be most effectively presented to customers in the form of online applications, citing the Green Button initiative as an excellent example of making energy data available to customers. “Actual consumption data can be plugged into smartphone, tablet, or laptop apps which makes these comparisons. Or, retailers can do this on the web. America’s Green Button initiative is one example of how this is becoming a reality in 22 states by April 2012.”
Using data from the Green Button initiative, Simple Energy makes energy use information easy for customers to understand by translating it into an online game that is social, fun and simple. By presenting energy use data as a score that can be compared socially on networks where people are already spending time, like Facebook, Simple Energy not only makes energy easy to understand, but also enjoyable. Beyond just communicating the information, the platform actually motivates people to take actions that impact their energy consumption by encouraging them to compete with their friends to earn points and prizes for saving energy.
“People are naturally social and they like competing to win points and prizes,” explains Yoav Lurie, CEO of Simple Energy. “It’s the same reason half of all Americans will buy a lottery ticket this year, or why grown men at a Giants game will literally pummel each other to get a free t-shirt that won’t even fit them. Creating competition and social recognition is an intuitive way of inspiring people to save energy.”
With utilities already capturing the data needed to create a compelling competition between neighbors, all they have to do is translate it into a meaningful and engaging format for their customers. Imagine people sharing their energy “scores” with their friends online. Suddenly, turning off the lights and taking shorter showers means social glory. People could even form teams to compete for a cause they believe in, earning points on behalf of their favorite school, community group, and more.
Clearly, making energy information easy to understand is important, but going beyond messaging to motivating customers to actually take actions that impact their energy use is how truly effective customer engagement occurs.