Are you looking to expand your marketing tools in the utility industry? Giving customers choices and the opportunity for interaction is well-documented to improve customer satisfaction, and that, in turn, improves ROI.

Recent market research indicates customers appreciate receiving recommendations by their energy providers, including during conversations with the utility’s contact center. You might look at this as another spin on giving them choices. Two-thirds of those who received a recommendation reported that it was highly relevant, and three-quarters followed that recommendation. Recommendations boosted brand trust by more than 80 points on a 1,000-point scale. Following a recommendation increased it by more than 90 points, and relevant recommendations increased trust by nearly 150 points.

Utilities are prompted by flattening demand and market disruptions to increase their offerings with value-added services. This provides a greater opportunity to provide recommendations and customer choice. Home repair plan programs allow energy providers to leverage their brand to move into a new retail space and expand offerings. Many utilities are using these marketing tools to enter this marketplace with affinity partnerships.

Home Repair Plans Provide Additional Marketing Tools

Fifty-nine percent of respondents surveyed said their opinion of their utility provider would improve if they offered a home repair service program. Utility customers who did have a repair plan through their provider rated that provider higher by 40 percent for gas and 36 percent for electric.

Since 22 percent of homeowners have no money set aside for repairs, an unanticipated repair could be financially devastating to your customers. Repairs are a fact of homeownership, and of the twenty percent of homeowners who had HVAC repairs, 11 percent who had water heater repairs and 10 percent who had electrical issues can attest. 

HomeServe is a leading provider of utility-sponsored home repair plans that provide homeowners with a one-call solution without deductibles and call-out fees. Energy-centered offerings include affordable coverage for water heaters, cooling and heating systems, interior and exterior electric, interior and exterior gas, heating and cooling tune-ups. Preventive maintenance for heating systems is also covered. Customers have the ability to pick and choose what fits their needs and their budget, increasing customer satisfaction.

“An unexpected repair can take a real bite out of a homeowner’s budget, and, when you’re dealing with an electrical or gas issue, it also can be a safety concern,” Andrew DeCastro, HomeServe Senior Vice President of Corporate Development, said. “If a customer’s heating or cooling systems go out of service, their home might not be habitable, depending on the weather. With HomeServe, customers make one call to our call center and we handle finding a contractor and dispatching them quickly so the repair can be made as soon as possible. Our plans help homeowners avoid financial shock and safety issues so they can have peace of mind.”

Utility Customers Weigh In

Dorothy, a customer of a large utility in Houston, learned that her 15 year old gas service line was out-of-code and leaking. The job would require 50 feet of trenching and cost approximately $3,000. Luckily, the utility had partnered with HomeServe, and Dorothy had a gas service line plan.

“I signed up in July, I believe, never thinking this would happen, but it did, and I’m very glad that I had [the coverage],” she said. “When I called, the agent was very helpful, answered any questions I might have, reassured me that I was covered, which made me very happy. The contractor that HomeServe sent out was very helpful and ready to fix whatever it was.”

Shannon, a customer of a California utility, had a severe failure of her gas service line, requiring a complete replacement from home to meter – a total length of 250 feet, which would have cost her between $10,000 and $15,000, if she didn’t have a plan with HomeServe.

“When we found out there was a problem and the gas was turned off, we called HomeServe,” she said. “At that point, they proceeded to contact a plumbing company, who would come out and determine exactly what was wrong. There’s no out-of-pocket on the repair – the entire repair is being covered. I’m very satisfied with HomeServe. They really came through for us and saved us a lot of money. They stayed in contact with us, they were very friendly, very upfront, so I was very satisfied.”

Watch one customers’ experience with a gas line repair:

HomeServe has a network of 1,400 local contractors throughout the U.S., each thoroughly vetted for the safety and peace of mind of your customers. They are required to be licensed and insured, maintain an A rating with the Better Business Bureau, and achieve high customer satisfaction scores in post-service surveys. HomeServe’s award-winning 500-seat contact center handles claims with multi-lingual, live operators 24/7/365. To learn more about how you can offer your customer value-added home repair plans and add to your marketing tools through an affinity partnership with HomeServe, please contact us.