Retail Energy en Online Customer Portal ROI: A Look Behind the Numbers <span>Online Customer Portal ROI: A Look Behind the Numbers</span> <div class="field field--name-field-images field--type-image field--label-hidden field__items"> <div class="field__item"> <img src="/sites/default/files/2020-12/mpx-retail-energy-customers.jpg" width="1170" height="658" alt="retail energy online portals" /> </div> </div> <span><span>Tim Cole</span></span> <span>Mon, 12/02/2019 - 06:30</span> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p><strong>Real data showcases the power of taking customers digital</strong></p> <p>Online self-service is an absolute consumer expectation in the "I can Google that" era. Yet many dealers make the mistake of thinking that taking online payments is all they need to do. Unfortunately, this falls far short of what your customers really want. They demand the ability to do everything themselves without needing to call you for help. That means your portal must literally perform like a virtual CSR.</p> <p>For companies that have fully embraced moving their customers to digital service, the results are impressive. It is something we see every day and believe it is worth sharing. It is important to fully understand the real-world financial impacts of adopting new customer facing technology that enables comprehensive self-service. And for those who remain anxious about the disruption and change management of IT projects, seeing the payback can often ease the fear. The short-term pain is worth it in the long run.</p> <p>Here is some compelling data from one of our clients after 1-year with MPX.</p> <p><strong>From 0 to 16,800 totally paperless customers</strong></p> <p>The implications of this are incredibly far reaching. First and foremost, this represents a significant reduction in paper and postage costs. In this case, that equals about $.50 per customer per month or $100,800 annually. This paperless adoption rate will grow, as will this significant annual savings.</p> <p>Moving away from paper to a digital environment fuels several key improvements for customers too. Many customers want to avoid the clumsiness and effort of dealing with mailed bills. They can manage their account activity the same way they do with other business relationships, on the web likely from a smart phone. This aligns your company with current digital trends which fosters loyalty.</p> <p><strong>234% increase in web users</strong></p> <p>The retail fuel industry has a history of deploying portals that are dealer centric, not customer centric, resulting in lackluster adoption rates and even lower satisfaction ratings. These can be fairly described as glorified payment and order taking systems that have never fulfilled their most important promise; automating complex customer service functions to take the pressure off your customers and your phones.</p> <p>In November of 2018, our client had 18,000 web users. Today that number has swelled to 43,000 with no signs of slowing down. This is proof of how a well-designed digital customer ecosystem can create meaningful online adoption. Customers want to be online and what better place to drive them than your web site and portal. This is a way for customers to exercise their self-determination and do things on their time. It also reduces phone traffic, taking pressure off one of your busiest departments.</p> <p><strong>292% increase in Auto Pay enrollees</strong></p> <p>In November 2018, our client had 2,967 Auto Pay enrollees. Today, that has grown to 8,650, again with no signs of slowing down. This is yet another indicator that consumers are looking for ease and convenience. Giving it to them makes them stickier and more likely to remain loyal. They are now adding text-to-pay. End customers sign up just like autopay, but receive a text when payment is due. To pay, customers just respond to the text message. They love being in control by being able to say yes immediately. Similar clients on text-to-pay are being paid about seven days earlier than usual.</p> <p>Most importantly, Auto Pay greatly reduces your DSO (days sales outstanding). In an industry that still offers 30 day terms and has average DSO of 45-60 days, this is a big deal. Think of how this will cut collection costs and headaches while getting money in your bank account faster.</p> <p><strong>200% increase in online payment processing volume in just one year</strong></p> <p>This is quite an astonishing metric. Customers want to pay their bills on time in most circumstances. They simply want it to be easier to handle and, like most of us, they need reminders. This is much less costly to do with digital communication. And it lands this communication right where they live; on their smart phones and laptops.</p> <p>In today’s world, you must give customers multiple channels to pay online. Email, text, even text-to-pay options all create quick convenient ways for customers to pay you. The constellation of effects generated by moving to online processing includes less manual processing, less security risk, and improved customer satisfaction. And, although it sounds surprising, online credit card payments are less expensive than handling checks and cash.</p> <p>Your online customer portal centralizes information so that customers always know where to find what they need and can access the necessary tools to solve problems as they arise. It makes for a much better experience for customers and gives them the power to participate in their relationship with your company.</p> <p>The rewards for you are lower costs, greater retention, and increased growth. To get there, first audit your online portal and engagement tools. Are they intuitive and easy to use? Can they do everything a CSR can do and more? If not, rethink what you can offer customers that will make them happy and take the strain off your resources.</p> </div> <div class="field-name-field-category"> <a href="/blog-categories/retail-energy" hreflang="und">Retail Energy</a> </div> Mon, 02 Dec 2019 04:30:16 +0000 Tim Cole 146 at Stop Delaying Important IT Projects… Your Customers Don’t Have the Patience <span>Stop Delaying Important IT Projects… Your Customers Don’t Have the Patience</span> <div class="field field--name-field-images field--type-image field--label-hidden field__items"> <div class="field__item"> <img src="/sites/default/files/2020-12/mpx-it-upgrades.jpg" width="1170" height="658" alt="information technology retail energy industry" /> </div> </div> <span><span>Jacob Roberson</span></span> <span>Mon, 11/04/2019 - 06:37</span> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p><strong>Technological advancements won't ever slow down.</strong></p> <p>Fuel dealers often ask when things might "settle" in terms of emerging IT needs. The short answer is never. If anything, the pace of change will only accelerate. The notion of catching up should be replaced with an ongoing, constantly evolving process to ensure that you will always be in sync with important trends. Your best approach is a clear IT strategy that will help you know where to direct your investments and, more importantly, when.</p> <p>It helps to understand why technology purchases and adoption present a unique challenge to our industry. And why suddenly, it feels like IT is the most urgent issue for your company.</p> <p>Like any life cycle, we had our formative years. This is when, collectively, dealers learned the best ways to address the market, run operations, manage prices, and make a lot of money doing it. Unfortunately, this was also a time when businesses were in control of customers. An era defined by consumers being blissfully uneducated about what they were buying and forced to surrender to however retailers (including fuel companies) chose to engage them.</p> <p><strong>It is safe to say that the "businesses make the rules" era is over.</strong></p> <p>Customers are now at the center of an "age of disruption". They have asserted their will and quickly gained control of every relationship. Consumer power is capable of reshaping entire industries, and the way the world is doing business. The problem for fuel dealers is that this new customer expects superior online engagement and near-total self-service. Not exactly an area of strength currently. Existing systems are dated and often fall far short of what your customers demand.</p> <p><strong>A new wave of customer facing technology is here. But will dealers act quickly enough?</strong></p> <p>The fuel industry does not have a history of making bold new technology choices. For years, dealers believed that their processes were overly intuitive and somehow defied automation. We know now that wasn't true. Optimization and automation have reinvented how dealers do business, though the pattern of slow, labored decisions to buy proven IT solutions remain. "It's too expensive", "let's stay with our current solution", "this isn't the right time". All internal fears without thought of the enormous customer benefits.</p> <p><strong>Dealers need motivation to think beyond the risks of IT projects and focus on the huge wins technology can deliver.</strong></p> <p>Significant growth and customer retention. That should get everyone's attention. Successful growth is driven by benefits accrued to the customer, not to the company. After all, they get to choose whether or not to use you as a supplier. Perhaps the biggest risk you're taking is delaying the adoption of the digital tools your customers expect at the time their bar for being wowed is higher than ever.</p> <p><strong>The challenge of implementing improved customer technology tools is well worth the reward.</strong></p> <p>IT projects will always take longer, cost more and be more difficult to complete than you originally thought. The combination of shifting to Digital-First thinking and transforming legacy processes will test you and your team. But it is TRANSFORMATION that is required. It isn't about a tweak or slight enhancement; it is about the right tools that can totally change the game. Tools that are as new as the customer behavior that has you perplexed. Perfectly aligned, thoughtfully designed, and similar to what they use elsewhere every day.</p> <p>There will, of course, always be those who fear transformation. We all know the advocates in the "do nothing" camp, making the best of what is already in place. The cultural undercurrent of "this is just how we do things" can be tough to overcome. But in most cases, this resistance to transformational IT is rooted in a limited understanding of how a potential change can benefit the business.</p> <p><strong>It is critical to remember that digital transformation is not an IT project.</strong></p> <p>Customer-focused technology solutions are a strategic initiative guided by the leaders of an organization. It will only succeed if you can create the right environment for the behavioral adaptions needed to embrace and fully capitalize on "digital-first" tools, systems, and processes. You can measure adoption by looking at customer logins or usage statistics. But the true potential of technology is only realized when everyone adopts and embraces it. Including your customers.</p> <p><strong>There may never be such a thing as "the perfect time" and there will always be risks.</strong></p> <p>It's just a case of making that disruption as small and as brief as possible. The hard reality is that what you are really doing is trading one risk and disruption for another. For example, would you rather risk losing customers, stunting market share growth, or having to incur additional staff to handle phones and busy work?</p> <p>Technology can do amazing things. But it's only powerful when it empowers leaders and smart teams to make better decisions and when it provides information and efficiencies that improve productivity. In today's world, a finer point needs to be put on how your customers use technology to engage with you -- and how your people use technology to get closer to your customers -- that is what will propel a "digital-first" fuel company into the future.</p> </div> <div class="field-name-field-category"> <a href="/blog-categories/retail-energy" hreflang="und">Retail Energy</a> </div> Mon, 04 Nov 2019 04:37:23 +0000 Jacob Roberson 147 at Being an MPX Customer is a Focus on Growth and Customer Ease <span>Being an MPX Customer is a Focus on Growth and Customer Ease</span> <div class="field field--name-field-images field--type-image field--label-hidden field__items"> <div class="field__item"> <img src="/sites/default/files/2020-12/mpx-partnership-trust-efficiency.jpg" width="1170" height="658" alt="mpx partnership theme trust efficiency service support excellence" /> </div> </div> <span><span>Jacob Roberson</span></span> <span>Tue, 10/29/2019 - 06:39</span> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>At MPX, we do not believe in simply selling great products and services. Our approach is to work collaboratively with customers to achieve mutual goals. We want to be integral to your success and have the proven ability to drive real results. In today’s world, those results can only be realized by engaging and servicing a demanding consumer who expects you to provide intuitive online tools and digital communication.</p> <p><strong>World Class Customer Engagement Solutions</strong><br /> <i>It's why we exist</i></p> <p><strong>Online Portals: Transforming the way dealers and customers communicate</strong></p> <p>The MPX portal has been thoughtfully designed to align the expectations of digital consumers with the operational realities of fuel dealers. Customers want to engage online, embrace self-service, and have communications delivered by text and email. And they want your portal to do everything a CSR can do including complex functions like automated budget and price plan enrollments as well as text alerts for delivery and service. Our portal provides a single integrated data platform to handle all of this and more.</p> <p><strong>Digital Documents</strong></p> <p>Our rendering platform is highly flexible, and our design team is well versed in energy specific document design. We’ll work with your team to determine why the phone is ringing with confused customers, why it should be ringing because of smart digital marketing… and together create documents that inspire prompt payment and brand loyalty.</p> <p><strong>Duty to Warn Integration</strong></p> <p>To save postage, DTW can readily integrate with outgoing billing documents. We keep track of who received documents during the designated DTW period and will then organize a far less expensive catch up mailing for those still in need of the safety mailing. We also can fully support a separate safety / PERC mailing with a full window option even.</p> <p><strong>Vendor Consolidation: A variety of mission critical services all under one roof</strong></p> <p>MPX is a true full-service Customer Engagement provider capable of shortening your list of vendors. Our value-add services include:</p> <ul> <li>General print, meter tickets, direct mail, fulfillment portal</li> <li>Merchant Processing</li> <li>Lockbox with fewer exceptions given our unique automation to review the outgoing billing file for posting accuracy when checks arrive without a remittance stub</li> <li>Return mail notification service</li> </ul> <p><strong>What Guides Us</strong> <strong>Partnership</strong> – we are in this together so when you win, we all win<br /> <strong>Respect</strong> – not just in how we treat you but in how we respect what you want to achieve<br /> <strong>On Your Side</strong> – we see our relationship from your point of view and never assume we know best<br /> <strong>Trust</strong> – we are honest and true to our word because transparency is a cornerstone of confidence<br /> <strong>Innovation</strong> – striving to keep our solutions ahead of dealer and customer needs during a time of accelerating change</p> <p>MPX is recognized as the outright Customer Engagement leader in the energy market.</p> <p>Contact us today for a full business and technology evaluation. Learn firsthand what we can contribute as your partner.</p> </div> <div class="field-name-field-category"> <a href="/blog-categories/retail-energy" hreflang="und">Retail Energy</a> </div> Tue, 29 Oct 2019 04:39:00 +0000 Jacob Roberson 148 at MPX Retail Energy Case Study & Client Testimonial <span>MPX Retail Energy Case Study &amp; Client Testimonial</span> <div class="field field--name-field-images field--type-image field--label-hidden field__items"> <div class="field__item"> <img src="/sites/default/files/2020-12/mpx-case-study-energy-customer-engagement.jpg" width="1170" height="658" alt="retail energy case study " /> </div> </div> <span><span>Jacob Roberson</span></span> <span>Mon, 10/21/2019 - 06:40</span> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>The following case study was written by one of our retail energy clients. This is a client we've worked closely with over the past three years. When we met, we both had the goal of making a real difference in how energy consumers are served. Our client had two primary objectives influencing their priorities and decisions: 1.) Make it easy for end-customers to do business with them, and 2.) Make it easy for the customer service team to do what they come in each morning to accomplish, which is to take good care of customers.</p> <p>Why we were frustrated:</p> <p>We implemented a customer portal 8+ years ago in an effort to get ahead of the emerging self-service customer trends in our industry. The initial portal solution was forward thinking and gave us hedging tools that allowed us to reshape our critical price program business. As a mid-size energy marketer, industry leading technology tools can give us a significant competitive advantage when going head to head with bigger players. But along with the gains came problems and what amounted to a zero sum game. The portal was not able to seamlessly communicate with our back-office system leading to process inefficiencies while the complicated nature of the hedging module left us feeling overwhelmed. The net result was that we underutilized the system. As our business and customers evolved, we used the system less and less, primarily because the technology had lagged behind our needs in a digital world. In the end, frustration mounted at the realization we were investing in technology that was causing us to develop outside systems and more complicated processes to keep in touch with our customers. Wasn't technology supposed to save us time, money and aggravation?</p> <p>Time for a change:</p> <p>This challenging journey led to a major decision to change portal and customer engagement vendors. We decided to partner with MPX in the fall of 2017 with a projected launch date of February 2019. We did not anticipate the coldest period in years to hit our area in January which left us unavailable to work on our project. MPX was fantastic in working around our urgent need for flexibility and we successfully did a soft launch of the portal on February 15th. Quite amazing given the circumstances. By March, we were ready to tell our customers of our new portal and how it would serve them better. We communicated via eblasts and were able to enroll 20% of our customers in paperless, online accounts in the first 3 months. This led us to wonder if 20% of our customers became online, self-serve … how many labor hours were now freed up to service new customers?</p> <p>Did technology really save us time and money?</p> <p>Our MPX partnership initially centered around the portal and other digital engagement tools but we quickly decided to move our statement/invoice processing to them as well. This positioned MPX as our single source customer communication vendor. They assist us in communicating with our customers more frequently and effectively without increasing our overhead to do so. We are able to fully automate mailing of statements, text notifications for payments, deliveries &amp; service appointments, enroll more customers in automatic payment routines and reduce manual processes in the back-office system. Perhaps the BIGGEST impact came from our development of a simple and truly automated 4 step online price protection plan enrollment. Years prior, we had multiple outside systems generating budgets, pre-buys and other price protection plans, often leaving customers annoyed and confused. Since launch in the summer of 2018, we have been able to fully automate sign-ups for 50% of our customers which equals a 40% reduction in customer service costs. What could your business do if 40% of your office labor costs were freed up during these important plan season months?</p> <p>Did technology <strong>create</strong> revenue?</p> <p>Saving money is only half the battle. In essence, it is usually a one-time event; you find a solution that allows the removal of costs (time and/or headcount) but that becomes a new normal. It is not the gift that keeps on giving. And cutting costs has a reasonable limit. A dealer can only be so lean. Going too far results in burned out employees and less than stellar Customer Experience. Our expectation was that the MPX platform could also help us grow our base and, thus, top line revenue. Growth is really the most important thing for any dealer but it can be incredibly hard and expensive. We found a new way to bolster our customer count; use consumer technology to provide the same “shopping” experience and online service they get elsewhere every day. The MPX portal is so progressive that it easily beats any web based services offered by our competitors. This made our existing customers happy. And then they started to refer us to friends and family. From a marketing perspective, we are now able to position our company as a leader in customer facing technology. In short, it is easy to become our customer and to be our customer. This is driving gains at a year over year rate of 10%. That is not a typo. 10% annual and repeatable organic growth! At very low acquisition costs. This has been a complete game changer for our financial results.</p> <p>But what about the hedging?</p> <p>While self-serve customers are a dream in the energy space, having all these price protection plans doesn't help much if you don't know what you need to hedge. So we kept it simple … customers enroll in 4 easy steps and data is fed in real time to our dashboard showing us what we need to cover and the timeline that is relevant for us for proper margin management. We utilize simple screens so we don't experience data overload nor does our team need to be commodity traders to get their jobs done. MPX helps us match what we have committed in terms of gallons and prices to what we have purchased, both physical and financial instruments … and most importantly … where we are exposed! This tool is ideal to protect our business and keep us competitive.</p> <p>Results Speak Louder:</p> <p>Our goals going into this project were:</p> <ul> <li>Engage with customers more without increasing overhead expense</li> <li>Grow our customer base without increasing overhead expense</li> <li>Develop a tool that allowed our customers to have access to their account 24/7</li> <li>Provide a simple process for customer to sign up for their Price Protection Plans without the need for customer service assistance.</li> <li>Automate budget &amp; pre-buy set up in our software system to eliminate manual entry</li> <li>Reduce manual processes for payment routines, text notifications, and statement/invoice mailings.</li> </ul> <p>Our results to date with this project:</p> <ul> <li>Account growth is at a sustained rate of 10% (meaning repeated for past 2 seasons and going in that direction this season). Our suite of online engagement tools allows to easily reach a large audience and convert them to new customers easily, inexpensively, and in an automated environment.</li> <li>We now send text alerts to every delivery customer the night before their delivery including automatic customers. This has saved us wasted trips from COD customers who forgot to leave a check, and saved us short delivery shorts when customer's usage patterns have changed. We also send service appointment alerts the night before an appointment. This has saved us wasted trips due to customers forgetting or having a change of plans around our scheduled calls.</li> <li>The portal successfully answers 95% of questions customers call to inquire about.</li> <li>50% of our customers signed up for price protection and budgets online with no assistance from a customer service team member. Another 10% enroll (most often successfully) but call to verify they were making the right choices before submitting their contract. For each customer that self serves, we save roughly 15 minutes of staff labor.</li> <li>After some data movement testing, we have now determined that price protection plans for budgets &amp; pre-buys automatically set themselves up within 60 seconds of a customer entering their own plan online. Instant set up and communication allows customers to see real time account update information on their end.</li> <li>We have eliminated the auto payment routine from our back-office software and have automated the ACH routine. We were also able to eliminate our manual process of generating lists of customers to send mass texts to each day, and mailings are no longer done in house saving labor.</li> <li>Hard ROI: <ul> <li>10% sustained organic customer year over year growth</li> <li>Automate 50% of budget enrollments: reduced CSR cost by 7%</li> <li>Eliminate back office routines: reduced CSR cost by 3%</li> <li>MPX documents and postage: reduced CSR payroll cost by 3%</li> <li>Reduced call volume by 40% off season: reduced CSR cost by 9%</li> <li>Total CSR cost reduction: 22% annually</li> </ul> </li> </ul> </div> <div class="field-name-field-category"> <a href="/blog-categories/retail-energy" hreflang="und">Retail Energy</a> </div> Mon, 21 Oct 2019 03:40:13 +0000 Jacob Roberson 149 at