Scoville gives us insight into the “experienced customer,” the key to customer satisfaction and how dialogue in the utility industry is changing.
UMC: With every industry clamoring for a way to speak to their clients, how did Questline come to focus solely on utility providers? Click below to hear the answer:
UMC: What value does the “informed energy utility client” bring?
Elizabeth Scoville: The value is a true partnership for each of us, where we challenge one another to think outside the box, to work harder for better results and to ultimately engage customers in a successful manner. When clients come to the table with experience, we can have great conversations, compare notes on what’s worked and take calculated risks that can result in great benefits. The most exciting part for us is when we’re able to wow them with our creativity, our ability to deploy and our ability to measure results. That’s the collaboration that earns trust, why our retention remains strong and why we’ve stayed on the Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing, private companies in America for 9 years.
UMC: What were some of the most thought-provoking results from Questline’s 2016 Energy Utility Email Benchmarks Report?
Scoville: Snap decisions. Customers decide within seconds whether to read an email, often making that decision on a mobile device. In 2016, 78% of all utility-generated emails were opened within the first 24 hours. Furthermore, 50% of all Unique Clicks occurred in 5 hours. In 2015, it took 8 hours to reach 50% of clicks. Not only do energy utilities have to be engaging, but they have to be engaging instantly. It’s the society we live in, and breaking through is only going to get tougher.
UMC: When a utility provider starts a client engagement by utilizing Questline’s “Welcome Series,” what are the long-term effects?
Scoville: The Welcome Series solution is an email series that welcomes new customers to their energy utility. Each one has a unique and focused message covering issues like establishing an account, paying bills, enrolling in programs, etc. We call it “You Had Me at Hello” because, like any relationship, the tone is set in those early days and months, reaching customers when they are new and most likely to engage. In the short-term, these emails achieve very high open rates and engagement. Over the long term, the effects are even more significant. The customers that receive a Welcome Series and open at least one email in the series are overall more likely to open and engage with utility emails in the future. It’s now considered an industry best practice.
UMC: Tell me about your RelationshipBuilder solution. How does this solution increase brand awareness?
Scoville: Many institutions, from Gartner to JD Powers, have published research proving that consistent communication is a key factor in achieving high customer satisfaction. Questline’s research shows that readers of Questline’s eNewsletter are more likely to open other emails from their utility, and have had an Open Rate that is 55% higher than Non-Newsletter Readers and a Click Rate of 21% higher (Questline’s 2016 Energy Utility Email Benchmarks Report). That’s a significant brand-building difference. The white-labeled articles, infographics, videos, slide shows and quizzes are developed by energy-focused digital communications professionals, so the utility’s brand is seen as fresh, interesting and relevant. Because we manage the delivery of 160+ million emails annually, the utilities can bank on Questline’s 99% delivery rate as well. Our customers tell us that they deeply appreciate how the service can be deployed as plug-and-play or customized with regional or utility-specific messages as needed, enabling them to build their brand through the content marketing strategy that is most suited to their needs.
UMC: Almost every aspect of our lives is now documented and tracked through the use of social media. Do you think the utility industry has entered the fray of instant communications, or are they just getting their feet in the water?
Scoville: Our clients understand and are intrigued by what is possible in terms of potential “moments of truth” or instant communications in a customer’s journey. The most exciting carrot is the ability to create a personalized experience that helps deepen customer relationships. The promise of this is the possibility that we’ll see a brand new customer experience evolve beyond traditional issues and perceptions about energy utilities into a more authentic dialogue around what it means to provide, consume and protect energy.
UMC: In your opinion what is the “next big thing” in regards to technology and the utility industry?
Scoville: Customer experience. Those energy utilities who embrace the digital experience - content, personas, segments, behavioral marketing - fully, and go to the wall to create a powerful customer experience, are going to change the dialogue they’re having with their customers and, in turn, their value to them. It’s a thrilling time to be part of this equation.