Energy & Utilities

Engaging hard-to-reach energy customers to get a 16% lift in renewals

The Challenge

Being proactive with hard-to-reach customers during renewals

Reaching energy customers can feel like an impossible task. Most dodge emails and throw out any mail that’s not directly related to a bill. They rarely reach out unless they’re already frustrated or confused.

When the team at a large Texas-based electricity provider approached Relay Network, they felt they had exhausted their options for communicating with customers. They needed a mobile engagement automation solution in order to proactively welcome new customers, facilitate renewals and deliver important information as it came up.

In particular, this client saw the biggest issue when it came time for renewals. While some customers re-upped without hassle, the disengaged group wouldn’t respond, despite up to seven separate outreach attempts across email, direct mail and phone.

“Customers are inundated with emails these days,” says a rep from the energy company, and phone calls aren’t much more effective. “If you're receiving a call, you either have to answer it or listen to a voicemail later. Either way, it’s a pain for a lot of customers.” Relay offered a new approach.

Relay is a win-win product. The customer doesn’t have to take that extra action to receive help, and we're able to provide an update without spending a bunch of money. We’ve seen a lot of value so far.
Marketing Principal for Customer Retention

The Solution

Engaging the hardest-to-reach customers — and getting a 16% boost in renewals

This energy company decided to implement Relay’s mobile engagement automation solution at the end of its renewal process, sending a real-time text notification to customers with a link to a personalized interactive message feed where they could renew from their mobile phone. The idea was, by making renewals timely, easy, and, most importantly, mobile, this historically hard-to-reach group would convert.

“Customers receive an update without having to login and check the status of what they’re anxious about,” says the client. “It allows us to provide that outreach to the customer without them having to take action first and without us having to use human engagement in the call center.”

And it worked. The customers who got Relay’s mobile messages renewed at a rate 16 percent higher than customers who didn’t. This energy company was thrilled at the results of this initial program, and were eager to find more ways to leverage the Relay platform.


Increase in Customer Renewals


Affected Customers Reached in the Wake of Hurricane Harvey


Days to Launch

Providing an emergency Hurricane Harvey response that quelled customer fears and freed up phone lines

The team didn’t have to wait long to find out. This company operates in the Houston area, so when Hurricane Harvey ripped through Texas, customers were left confused, anxious, and in dire need of help.

Within hours of the storm, phone lines were completely clogged with calls. To support their customers, the client knew they had to answer two critical questions: How do I get my electricity back on, and what happens if I miss my bill?

With Relay, this company was able to proactively answer both. The team immediately sent targeted mobile messages to 40,000 customers in the affected area with individualized information on how to contact their primary energy provider to reinstate service. Then, a week later, the energy company sent out a billing message to let customers know that no one’s service would be suspended for missing a bill.

Relay provided an excellent communication channel we could leverage in a crisis. Before, we would have relied on email, which has a relatively low open rate, or direct mail and phone calls, both useless for reaching customers who may not be in their homes. Basic text messaging solutions – while mobile – are limited to 160 characters and cannot display sensitive account information or content that gives customers everything they need at a glance. Relay gave our team a new way to connect and engage with their customers in a timely and secure manner. It was just a friendly reminder, as well as a note of sympathy. I certainly think it helped.
Marketing Principal for Customer Retention

Standing up Relay and integrating it with CRM tools in just 30 days

Those successes are even more remarkable when you know how quickly we achieved them together. At the start, Relay committed to a 30-day launch. Each Relay client works directly with a dedicated Client Success Manager who’s part account manager, part project manager and all-around program champion. We work side-by-side with the client’s team to set up their Relay program and help them make the most of it, from documenting the necessary integrations, to identifying ideal opportunities to reach out to customers, to creating performance reports and dashboards.This relationship is the reason a 30-day launch was possible.

What's Next

Planning a future full of Relay wins — from paperless billing to win back

With two quick wins under their belt and a firm belief in the value of personalized mobile messaging, the team at the energy company is looking into all sorts of ways to reduce costs and improve the customer experience going forward.

To start, they are planning to use Relay to help customers turn off paper billing. All customers need to do is respond with a simple tap, and their records will be automatically updated through Relay’s integration with the company’s billing systems and customer records.

After that, the options are endless. We’re already working on a win-back campaign for customers who have left the energy company, and we’re plotting a series of educational messages around billing. We’re even discussing proactively reaching out to customers who have a spike in energy usage, so they’re not surprised by their bill. With Relay’s mobile engagement automation, this energy company can now proactively engage customers in ways they never could before — and benefit tremendously from the results.

Interested in understanding how Relay engages even your hardest-to-reach energy or utilities customers? Let us know, we'd love to walk you through a demo.