Communication and Customer Experience at the 2019 E Source Forum

Nov 10, 2019

The 2019 E Source Forum, held Sept. 17 -20 in Denver, Colorado, proved to be a valuable opportunity for our experts to meet with utility leaders in energy efficiency and discuss the latest industry trends around delivering energy savings to their customers. The folks at E Source did an excellent job balancing insightful and engaging sessions with networking opportunities and fun activities to provide a great conference experience in Denver.

The annual E Source Forum is a conference for energy efficiency utility professionals open exclusively to utility members of E Source and an invited group of program implementers and energy service providers, as well as speakers from industry and government. As a Platinum Sponsor, Nexant had a prominent presence as well as a central booth and private conference room. Typically at the Forum, utility professionals outnumber everyone else 2–to-1 and this year over 700 attended. This balance fosters a unique perspective that allows service providers like us to understand the common issues faced by our clients and engage with them on finding solutions unique to their situation.

Over the 2 ½ days of the conference there were dozens of sessions covering a wide variety of topics, such as decarbonization and emerging technologies, website design for customer experience, and DSM program best practices – but a theme that emerged throughout, and after, was the central importance of effective communication in what we do.

The opening keynote reminded utilities of the energy industry’s role in climate change and that their customers care about how their energy use is impacting the climate. Customers want cleaner sources of energy, they like equipment and services that help them use less of it, and they want utilities to offer this with their reliable energy service. The speaker discussed utility plans to move entirely to clean energy resources based in part on customer demand. A number of the sessions further highlighted the importance of customer communication through discussions on marketing and branding, website and E-commerce site design, and understanding customer empathy and expectations. Speakers described how good customer communications in these areas can make programs more effective and improve how customers view their utility. 

The closing keynote was a speech on generational differences in energy attitudes and provided tips for overcoming that communication divide, again emphasizing the need for improved communication. Fittingly, as the conference ended the local representation of the largest climate protest in history filled the downtown area and streamed directly past the conference and towards the State Capitol, voicing concern for the climate and demanding policy action to address climate change. Those customers are clearly communicating what they want; now it’s up to utilities and contractors to better inform them of what’s happening and how they can participate in energy programs to help achieve the same goal.