By Noah Solomon, Senior Research Analyst –
A typical utility customer spends less than ten minutes a year interacting with their electric utility, not nearly enough time to build a relationship. Due to this lack of interaction, an electric utility can seem distant, more of a “necessary evil” than an entity with which a customer is doing business.
To help address this issue, in October 2017, FirstEnergy embarked on a strategy to add value to its utility service, launching its SmartMart platform, an online store where its residential customers can purchase items including connected home services, smart thermostats, efficient lightbulbs (including a model with built-in Bluetooth speakers) and other devices to increase energy efficiency and effectiveness. These items can be purchased and added to a customer’s energy bill to create a “one-stop” experience for energy-use related shopping. FirstEnergy also offers industrial and other systems for non-residential customers.
FirstEnergy recently gave a presentation on its SmartMart initiative at Chartwell’s annual EMACS – The Customer Experience Conference, discussing the implementation and customer messaging behind its design and implementation. According to FirstEnergy, the goal of the initiative is to “supply (customers) with products and services relevant to their lives.” Surveys conducted on the SmartMart messaging indicated FirstEnergy customers responded well to the ability to save money and the convenience the store offers when looking to buy products to increase energy efficiency in their home.