The international energy market is competitive and highly commoditised. In a buyers’ market the cost of acquisition and retention is high, so companies need to be competitive and innovative.
In a buyers’ market customer experience isn’t a nice-to-have, it’s a matter of success or failure.
I was asked by one energy provider to help it understand how customers switch providers, and to design a solution to make it easier to potential customers to switch to them.
- Industry: Energy Utility
- Position: Account lead
- Client location: Ireland and UK
- Team: 3 full time, 2 part time
- Year: 2013-2015
- Tasks: stakeholder interviews, design workshops user journey mapping, wireframing, user testing.
One of the largest energy providers in the UK and Ireland wanted to reach more customers in Ireland. While the company was performing well in the UK, it needed some help to further penetrate the Irish market. With a fluid market in Ireland the company needed to acquire new customers, and maintain their existing customers for longer.
Our challenge was to make it easier for customers to understand the proposition, and even easier to switch. This required us to overcome internal politics and legacy systems.
Over 18 months I led this account with a team consisting of a visual designer, developers, and agile PM. Together we redeveloped the company’s sales flow to improve conversion.
Our research found that the client had a large number of failed potential customers. The company was successful in attracting potential new customers to the sales flow, but few completed their purchase.
Our task was to identify the roadblocks, and remove them.
We began with Analytics. We found that a large number of entrants to the sales pages failed to complete the switch process early on. We took this initial data and mined it for insights.
We found that the largest number of failed switches happened between Monday and Friday, and were far more likely to happen between 9AM and 3PM. Those who attempted the switch process at weekends or in the evenings were more successful. We suspected that these potential customers churned because they did not have access to two important pieces of information, their gas and electricity meter numbers, or their bank account numbers.
We checked this hypothesis with call center staff, who anecdotally confirmed that daytime weekday switchers often did not have the required information to switch.
We redesigned the sales flow to allow users to ‘pause’ their applications. We structured the sign-up flow to allow users to input basic personal information and, if they did not have the required meter numbers or bank details, they could save their progress.
This process is supported with a communications’ path; with this path users are sent a confirmation email, with a single-use continue link, as soon as they pause their application. If they don’t complete their application within 24 hours we send them another email and link. This second email is timed to be sent at 7pm – when users are likely to be at home, and so have access to the necessary information. A third and final reminder email is sent on the Saturday after the user has switched, again to catch users when they’re likely to be at home.
This process involved close negotiations with the company’s security and compliance departments, who were careful to ensure that users’ data was securely held and done so in compliance with Irish and UK data privacy laws.
Happier customers, and increased sales, and a better experience for the client and their customers.