In many countries, the utility market underwent a thorough liberalization process and customers are now free to choose their service provider. However, this does not mean that consumers became energy experts overnight. Utilities have a limited window of opportunity to engage with their online customers and establish their new business models because rivals from other industries are rapidly building their capability and credibility with customers.
The solution is going to involve “retailization” — a concept described in Flipping the Switch, a 2017 report by PwC on prospects for the utility industry in the United States. Retailization is the development of more direct consumer-to-utility relationships, along the lines of consumer banking or online shopping. Early steps might include real-time mobile and digital experiences, energy efficiency audits, home energy management solutions, and real-time billing and mobile payments.
Many companies seem to forget this fact and squeeze too much information on their websites that customers are unable to decipher. Or they provide their online customers with complicated self-service forms, full of questions they can’t answer without professional help. ‘Best-case scenario’, they will only feel frustrated; worst case, they’ll just go somewhere else where they receive a better customer experience.
Iberdrola had been struggling with similar issues:
• Distressingly low conversion rates through their online form, intended to engage new customers.
• How to increase trust and enhance the customer experience by providing an in-branch feel to the online customer journey at the click of a button.
• Complex sales process and hard to understand offers resulting in low online sales as customers avoid buying through digital channels due to lack of transparency.
The company was looking for a solution that would help them solve these problems and increase online conversion.
Whisbi’s Conversational Marketing platform, combining live video, real-time messaging, voice, and chatbot, turned out to be exactly what they have been looking for. The solution comes with an engaging, clearly visible Conversational Button, fully integrated into the company’s website, as shown in the image below:
Let’s take the example of a potential customer who has been building a new home or thinking about changing to a more advantageous utility service. Whenever the customer is browsing on Iberdrola website, looking for specific offers or products, the Conversational Button kindly invites them to talk to a company representative for more information. The customer can then leave their phone number to ask for a free callback, thanks to Whisbi’s patented solution. The customer then receives a callback from the company, connecting them with the available company representative. In less than 5 seconds, a normal phone call is automatically synchronized with an interactive online experience in real-time, i.e. video, co-browsing, chat, and tracking.
Thanks to this unique Conversational Marketing platform, Iberdrola was able to:
• Demonstrate benefits of complex bundles by showing detailed presentations, selected web pages or any other content via co-browsing. Crunching the numbers became much easier when aided by convincing visuals!
• Assist customers in filling out the complex online forms in real-time. They could share the screen with the customer via co-browsing, and go through the questions together. The additional text chat window is a useful tool to exchange information difficult to spell out, such as technical details or personal data.
• Create trust and transparency by a one-way video communication: customers are able to “put a face to the name” in an otherwise impersonal vertical that is utilities.
• Besides all this, the comprehensive tracking with the Whisbi Deck from click-through to closed sales helped the brand to optimize the ROI of their digital marketing activities (knowing which campaigns were driving leads) and the performance of their sales representatives.
This engaging and convenient real-time customer experience has been worlds apart from the tedious self-service investigation. Overall, the customers felt reassured by this face-to-face assistance in real-time and the brand was able to better monetized on their web visitors as a growing part of the customer journey is now happening online.
The Whisbi Conversational Marketing platform helped Iberdrola to:
• Kickstart their once ineffective online sales operations, reaching radically higher conversion rates than ever before.
• Increase the average contract value by leveraging upselling and cross-selling opportunities when discussing customer needs during the interactive sessions.
This example shows that consumers don’t have to become utility experts themselves – but instead, an electric utility company, like Iberdrola, can offer them an innovative way to interact with one, much earlier in the research and/or decision stage than ever before.