How Rocky Mountain Power boosted SMB CSAT with Business Energy Reports

The 2023 J.D. Power Electric Utility Business Customer Satisfaction Study highlighted a concerning drop in business customer satisfaction (CSAT) among electric utilities, finding CSAT is at an all-time low of 754 on a 1,000-point scale. 

However, despite this cautionary assessment, the report was decidedly optimistic about the future, suggesting that the path to reversing business CSAT decline is clear. Survey respondents overwhelmingly agreed that proven strategies like improving communication and providing more personalized service could significantly improve customer sentiment and turn things around.

In short, communication + personalization = transformational CSAT improvement. 

Bidgely’s work with Rocky Mountain Power has demonstrated that this simple equation really does add up to big impact.

The utility began working with Bidgely in 2018 to advance its legacy Home Energy Reports program by leveraging disaggregation to help residential customers understand their energy usage breakdown and the associated costs. 

 “It was new and different, and it created a lot of engagement that generally created action. Customers were more aware, and it motivated them to make different energy use decisions,” explains Shawn Grant, Customer Innovations Manager at Rocky Mountain Power. 

Improved customer engagement and expanded participation resulted in significant, measurable savings. In less than one year, customers were empowered to save 41GWhs of energy — including savings of one percent among average consumption customers.

Extending Success from Residential to SMB Customers

Building on this residential HER program success, the utility set out to achieve similar benefits for its commercial customers.

“In 2020, we worked with Bidgely to create digital Business Energy Reports that went out to our small- and medium-sized business customers in three states — Utah, Idaho and Wyoming,” says Barb Modey, Customer Satisfaction Market Research Manager at PacifiCorp. “And the SMB engagement was really more than we expected. We didn’t use it as a savings tool. We pushed out communications that were not necessarily traditional energy efficiency messages. 

“Instead, we sent messages about reliability, pricing, or community involvement — just a variety of things that we wanted our customers to know about. And after a full year of these reports, in 2021 we received our best JD Power business scores ever. In fact, it was just striking — it was a 35 point jump. We went from number 10 in the West up to the number two spot, and from number 54 to number 9 nationally. The Business Energy Reports  worked so well that we rolled the program out to our sister company PacificPower the following year.”

Modey credits the consistent cadence of monthly communications for boosting overall engagement. 

“Before we introduced Business Energy Reports, our communication with SMB customers  was sporadic. We would come up with campaigns and have short bursts of contact with them either through direct mail or email, but then it would stop. It wasn’t a continuous effort. But now our reports go out twice a month, automatically. They hear from us consistently, month-after-month. 

Interestingly, SMB customers who received the business energy reports also demonstrated an increase in awareness and satisfaction in unexpected areas.

“In our surveys, customers who had received the Business Energy Reports had higher scores across a wide range of measures — not just energy efficiency, but also environmental awareness, awareness about reliability pricing, and even better experiences with outages,” Modey says. “ 

“When we worked with Bidgely to design our reports, we decided to treat it as a marketing program, rather than as a savings program. That gave us a lot of freedom to not only fund it, but also to include messaging that might not be considered purely DSM [Demand-Side Management]. So we are able to work-in messages that touch on customer satisfaction drivers. We might talk about what we’re doing to improve infrastructure and reliability, how our vegetation management crews are out there working, or what we’re doing with wildfire mitigation. We include those along with tips about signing up for energy efficiency, or incentives for HVAC or lighting or other programs they might find valuable.”

A Data Science Foundation

As with their residential HER program, Rocky Mountain Power leveraged disaggregation — which separates energy use into appliance categories across time — to create an accurate and actionable profile for each customer and personalize its Business Energy Reports. In the case of business customers, profiles included energy usage and time of use by appliance for heating, cooling, lighting, refrigeration, and always-on.

The data analysis further identified appliance-specific, non-operating-hours usage and on-peak usage as key commercial customer insights. 

Ongoing Personalized Engagement

Monthly summaries like Rocky Mountain Power’s Business Energy Reports provide commercial customers with a snapshot of their monthly energy use that includes appliance-level spending. 

This detailed analysis allows SMBs to identify energy efficiency and cost savings opportunities, both behavioral and appliance retrofits. It also provides a more useful means to compare current bills against historic bills, with the usage granularity needed to pinpoint exactly why a bill has gone up or down. 

Beyond monthly summaries, SMB customer profiles enable utilities to identify a personalized next-best insight and interaction for every SMB, and communicate recommendations with customers via proactive alerts, such as:

• High usage alerts paired with energy efficiency programs 

• Bill projections paired with better rate offerings

• A bill breakdown paired with new product offerings like solar panels, batteries, HVAC rebates, etc.

The resulting engagement program is consistent and relevant and establishes the utility as a partner that SMB customers can to rely on.

As JD Power emphasized in their survey reporting, far too many business customers are not receiving proactive outreach from their utility today, and it’s incumbent upon utilities to change that reality and establish a stronger collaboration with their high-value commercial customers.

After all, that’s just good business.

Learn More

If you would like to learn more about Rocky Mountain Power’s Business Energy Reports program and Bidgely’s SMB engagement and SMB CSAT capabilities, download the Bidgely SMB Solution Brief or check out our SMB Solutions page.

Hear more from PacifiCorp’s Barb Modi by watching the on-demand webinar: “Secrets of SMB Success: Rocky Mountain Power’s Award-Winning CX.”