Over the years, Vladimir Jones has worked with a variety of clients and projects in the energy space; from regulated utilities, to government entities, to natural gas providers and others. We’ve studied the way consumers think about energy (as little as possible), how they interact with their energy providers (only when absolutely necessary) and how they react to their energy bills, energy outages, and energy anomalies (confusion, outrage, betrayal).
And what we’ve discovered is a complex, fascinating relationship that all too often feels like no relationship at all.
The truth is, people think about energy differently than other commodities that they buy. This might very well come out of the reality that there is seldom any choice in the matter; in the vast majority of cases, it is very difficult to “opt out” of being an energy user. On one project we worked on at VJ several years ago, the energy-sector creative team put up a sign: HOW CAN WE LOSE WHEN OUR KEY COMPETITORS ARE “HYPOTHERMIA” AND “DARKNESS?”
And so, yes. On the most basic level, the energy industry prevents people from freezing in the dark. So they must love us, right?
In fact, the urge to hate on one’s energy utility seems instinctive, almost primal. One can easily imagine a primitive couple standing outside their cave, staring up at a solar eclipse and wondering “Who do we complain to about this?”
Once, with an absolutely straight face, we counseled an energy company that their major marketing objective for the year should be “to make their customers cease to hate them like poison and move them to a neutral emotional state.” If this were a military operation, we counseled them, it should be called “Operation Benign Indifference.”
But over the years, the energy team at VJ has continued to study this evolving industry, and the changing dynamic of its customer relationships. We have spoken to stakeholders on all sides of the issues that are defining business success for energy companies today. Infrastructure. Environment. Price. Performance. Supply. Sustainability. Value. Corporate reputation. And much more.
We’ve studied the profound effects of digital and social on CRM in the energy space, developed and optimized programs to exploit them in new ways.
We’ve probed and pondered the question of what energy customers really want? And while it’s clear that hardly anyone is looking to take long romantic walks on the beach with their energy providers, it is difficult to build any kind of rapport when every interaction is a negative event (ie, a bill, an outage, a natural gas leak, a rate increase). There must be more.
And that is where the future lies.
What follows here is a small sample of what VJ knows about energy.
Just let us know if you’d like to hear more.