How to make saving energy as exciting as skiing

By admin on January 17, 2012

Ok,  maybe not exactly as exciting as skiing, but the energy industry does have a lot to learn about customer engagement from the skiing industry. Specifically, Vail Resorts has figured out how to keep their customers talking about snow long after they’ve returned home from the slopes, with a new online game called EpicMix. Utilities can easily create something similar to increase customer satisfaction and loyalty, expand viral marketing, and motivate more customer involvement in a range of programs.

Increase customer satisfaction: one of the most amazing features of EpicMix is that it completely transforms the skiing experience, causing people to become obsessed with how many vertical feet they’ve covered and which lifts they rode the most. They return again and again to one of the Vail Resorts even if other mountains have more snow, simply to increase their numbers. How is this possible?

Quite simply, Vail has turned skiing into a game, an online competition between friends to see who can earn the most points, badges, and social glory for the season. “EpicMix nails addictive game dynamics,” explains the author of When a Mobile App is More Than an App. “I found myself opening the app on my iPhone throughout the day to check out my stats and the pins that I earned.”

The best part about this game is that the skier doesn’t have to do anything other than ski in order to enter data into the system: vertical feet, lifts, and more are automatically captured by the RFID scanners installed throughout the resorts.

Electric utilities don’t even have to go to the trouble of installing RFID scanners: they are already capturing their customer’s data, every time someone turns the light on, and tracking it for billing purposes. All they have to do is turn this data into a game that their customers will find fun, competitive, and addictive.

Expand viral marketing: why tell people how great you are when you could have your customers do it for you? Transforming energy data into an online game encourages people to invite their friends to play and share their score on Facebook as they improve, saving energy while simultaneously telling everyone how much fun they’re having doing it with your company. This is a major marketing opportunity that most utilities are completely ignoring.

“Games can be incredibly powerful marketing tools,” explains the author of another article called Does the Ski Industry and Resort Marketing Need EpicMix? “Many of the most popular sites/apps use game mechanics: Klout (accomplishments, +K, etc.) , Foursquare (badges, mayors, followers, etc.), even eBay (PowerUser levels, etc.) to name a few. Humans are naturally competitive, we like to move up the ranks, and that is partly why EpicMix works.”

Motivate customer engagement: Just like skiers are motivated to take more runs on the slopes so they can share their points online, utility customers who opt-in to play an online energy game may also be motivated to participate more enthusiastically in other programs such as smart grid rollout. This kind of customer engagement and loyalty is practically priceless, allowing the utility to undertake more aggressive programs and create better results.

“As I think about my next snowboarding trip, I’m considering another Vail Resort,” concludes the author of the mobile app article. “The new interactive experience is addictive and nothing else compares to it. Besides, I have a long way to go to get on the leader board!”

Utilities have the opportunity to transform the customer experience just like Vail has done. Learn more today about how to make saving energy as exciting as skiing.

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