SAS Analytics transforms energy providers into modern marketers
Ameren, Direct Options, EDP España examples in utilities industry seizing the trend
Like many industries, utilities are learning that marketing strategies must benefit customers as well as the business. The advent of smart meters is arming them with more energy usage data than ever. Add to that information from digital channels and market research, and utilities have the means to connect with customers and build loyalty while creating new revenue opportunities. SAS® Customer Analytics solutions are paving the way for the utility industry to strike this balance.
Analyzing customer satisfaction
Ameren Missouri, the state’s largest investor-owned utility, provides its customers exceptionally reliable electric power. Yet customers’ perceptions of reliability often fell short of reality. Customer satisfaction suffered. Using analytics solutions from SAS, Ameren Missouri connected disparate internal and external customer data sources across various utility systems and departments to analyze the trends. Ameren was able to build algorithms that helped uncover a complex relationship between perception and reality within the customer satisfaction equation.
“Analytics helped us discover that customers are highly influenced by the sight of utility crews performing field work, chatter on social media and traditional media exposure,” said Mark Konya, Supervisor of Customer Experience Analytics at Ameren Missouri. “With this information, marketers at Ameren are communicating messages and visuals that improve reliability perceptions and, in turn, overall customer satisfaction.”
Ameren also uses analytic insights to help customers better manage their energy usage. For example, the utility is customizing communications, which promote energy products and services matching customer preferences. Tools such as SAS® Enterprise Guide®, SAS® Enterprise Miner™ and SAS Visual Analytics enable Ameren to derive business value from advanced analytics.
Marketing energy efficiency
Founded on the conviction that data drives customer engagement, Direct Options works with utility marketers to create customer programs with goals ranging from education to energy efficiency.
One utility sought 2,000 new participants in its energy-efficiency programs to help it meet efficiency goals and statewide mandates. The company needed to discern which customers to target with what messages. Using SAS, Direct Options helped discover that customers responded positively to a “Get Something Free” message 50 percent more frequently than an “Increase Your Comfort” message. In the end, the campaign achieved 200 percent of its enrollment goal.
“We use SAS to analyze all our data, including market research and other sources. SAS is the backbone of every single campaign,” said Ashlie Ossege, Vice President of Analytic Services at Direct Options. “The first thing I did as vice president was to streamline our processes by implementing SAS. Now we can organize the code and make it repeatable. Efficiencies in completing models and storing procedures enable us to quickly create turnkey solutions for our customers.”
Most US utilities operate in a regulated market. But globally, many utilities markets are deregulated, meaning unhappy customers can simply switch providers whenever they choose.
No stranger to this reality, EDP España has transformed itself, placing the customer at the center of its business strategy. In a campaign to recover former customers, EDP España needed to identify those customers who pursued other options, understand why they left, and take action to regain their business.
With SAS Marketing Automation, EDP España is turning new customer insight into rekindled relationships and market share. SAS has helped the utility automate processes in its customer relationships – no small feat, with a customer base of 2 million. Today, customer recovery rates are above 80 percent, and loyalty exceeds the industry average.
“SAS has helped us achieve 95 percent customer loyalty among electricity customers and 80 percent customer loyalty in gas supply,” says Carlos Menéndez, Head of Business Intelligence at EDP España. “What we value most about SAS is the fact it is an integrated solution that lets us make decisions analytically and transfer them to the market very quickly.”
The bottom line? The importance of the utility customer is changing. Using customer analytics, utilities are creating marketing campaigns that elevate customer satisfaction rates, increase participation in energy-efficiency programs and reduce churn. To learn more, download our free white paper, How Analytics Reveals New Utility Customer Value.
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