SDG&E takes personalized customer care to new heights

By Zahra Dhanani, Research Associate –

In a motif that’s becoming standard for sci-fi movies and shows, a computer genius sits at the helm of a massive high-tech visualization panel with a sassy AI interface. These two engage in epic hijinks and Tony-Stark-style-banter, usually while saving the world.

While SDG&E’s Personalized Video Bill initiative will not evolve into an Infinity Stone powered super Avenger, or save the world (at least not at first – we’re willing to give it some time) the video bill is a big step forward in personalized customer care and satisfaction. The purpose of the video bill is to walk SDG&E customers through rate changes and effectively explain how these changes will affect their bills. It also helps the customer understand his usage and different plan options, including monthly comparisons.

From 2015 to 2016, SDG&E has released three separate versions of the video bills to residential and small business customers. Using Israel-based vendor Idomoo for their video individualization capabilities, SDG&E and Idomoo worked to develop the best themes, verbiage, and animation to make rate messaging easier to understand. Rigorous testing cycles later, the unique bills were finally ready for a first-round rollout.

So far, customer feedback about the improved billing communications has been positive:

-          58% of customers felt the video helped them better understand their bill

-          The first round of video bill releases had a 35% email open rate and a 30% view rate

-          73% of viewers watched more than half of the video

SDG&E points to a couple major lessons learned from the project:

Planning is important. Captain America never jumps into battle unprepared (oh wait, let’s just ignore Civil War as movie for this metaphor to work). If you’re a utility trying to implement something similar, give yourself the appropriate amount of time developing and testing before you get to the implementation phase. Personalizing video, while great for customer satisfaction, generally means using of lot of sensitive customer information, and also poses a security risk for the company and the customer.

Set attainable goals. The video doesn’t have to be a Marvel movie production. What’s important is communicating the right message to your customers. So, whatever you create, make sure to keep your customer’s perspective in mind. Don’t aim for Jarvis or Friday, but be a customer friendly Siri.

Interested in billing and payment related topics? Check out the energy library for more!

Want to help us gather more information on industry trends? Contact Zahra Dhanani at to learn how you can participate in Chartwell’s 2017 Billing and Payment surveys.

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