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Optimizing enrollment: Scaling flexibility programs with growth engineering

EnergyHub Team

July 11, 2024

With record-breaking distributed energy resource (DER) capacity coming online in the U.S., now is the time for utilities to scale their flexibility programs and grow virtual power plants (VPPs) that can deliver grid benefits such as reducing peak load, protecting aging infrastructure, and meeting decarbonization goals. 

However, scaling flexibility programs isn’t always easy; there are plenty of reasons why eligible customers might not successfully enroll, ranging from simple application errors to preferences in enrollment channels. Based on our experience enrolling over 1.3 million devices, we have identified seven key strategies to optimize customer enrollment that can help utilities scale flexibility programs and harness a growing base of DERs.

Identify and resolve simple application errors

Sometimes, all that stands between a utility customer and their successful enrollment in a program is a simple typo on their application. Thankfully, a “soft rejection” email workflow can remove this barrier to participation. These emails are triggered by minor application errors such as incorrect account numbers or misspelled names and encourage customers to correct and resubmit their applications.

In the past year, EnergyHub has sent over 875,000 soft rejection emails, leading to a 44% increase in reapplication rates within the 2-14 day window after a customer’s initial application.

Make it easy to validate eligibility

Another way to improve the inputs on customer applications is through address normalization. With this strategy, customers select their address from a dropdown list populated by USPS data while filling out their application. This makes it significantly easier to match customer addresses with utility records to confirm eligibility and approve applications.

Streamline the path to enrollment

When it comes to boosting conversion rates, sometimes less is more. Eliminating unnecessary steps from the user journey on enrollment landing pages can significantly improve conversions. In fact, after redesigning our utility microsite navigation and eliminating six clicks from the path to enrollment, we saw a 70% increase in “Enroll” button clicks on average. This has resulted in over 1,000 more accepted devices per month across the programs using the new template.

Test and iterate enrollment flows

Enrollment flows aren’t “set it and forget it” — for the best results, you’ll need to keep testing and iterating over time. We recently reordered the stages of our program application for Honeywell Home, Sensi, and Amazon devices to capture customer contact information upfront. The new flow not only eliminates a step from the application process, but also allows the ability to send reengagement emails to customers who do not complete their applications. 

With the new application flow and reengagement emails, utilities have seen an average conversion rate increase of 47% for customers applying via the web flow, with some programs like Arizona Public Service seeing a 109% increase.

Don’t forget about retention

While enrolling new devices is part of the solution for scaling flexibility programs, it’s equally important to ensure existing devices stay online and continue to participate in events year over year. To help keep customers engaged, be sure to optimize the timing of automated device reconnection emails. Devices that are offline for less than 30 days have a 263% higher reconnection rate when customers receive these messages. To date, EnergyHub has sent over 425,000 reconnection emails, improving the online reconnection rate by 11.4% across programs.

Look for new enrollment channels

From device manufacturer apps to utility marketplaces, there are plenty of channels where a customer could discover and enroll in a flexibility program. By leveraging these untapped channels, utilities can reach new customers and grow their programs faster. Utilities should seek to support as many enrollment channels as possible, including:

  • In-app enrollment: Customers can sign up from within their device manufacturer’s app.
  • Utility/device websites: Customers can enroll from their utility or device manufacturer’s website.
  • Marketplace pre-enrollment: Customers can pre-enroll when purchasing a device from their utility’s marketplace.
  • Direct installation pre-enrollment: Customers are pre-enrolled when their device is installed by their utility or another third party.

Understand why customers unenroll

It’s great to learn what’s driving enrollments, but it’s just as valuable to examine what’s driving customer churn. Churn analytics can uncover the most common motivations, triggers, and trends behind customer attrition. These insights can then be applied to win-back campaigns, proactive engagement touchpoints, and overall enrollment strategy to get ahead of challenges and keep customers participating long term.

As a trusted Edge DERMS provider with more than 1.3 million devices under management, EnergyHub helps over 70 utilities successfully deliver flexibility programs at scale. Our dedicated Growth Marketing and Engineering teams are a key driver of this success, continuously testing and refining the customer enrollment process to unlock rapid program scale. Get in touch with us today to learn more about how we can work together to unlock the benefits of flexibility.

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