Meeting Customers Where They Are: Lessons From The CEO of OhmConnect

Energy costs and usage impact every homeowner, but most people don’t think much about the process. They flip a switch, the light turns on, and they pay their electric bill when it comes due.  

But as the energy grid ages and breaks down and the weather gets more extreme and threatens to knock out power, conserving energy and using it at the right time is crucial for homeowners.  

That’s where OhmConnect comes in. The company uses AI and analytics to reduce energy costs by gamifying the process and rewarding consumers for using energy when it is cleaner and cheaper instead of during peak times when it is dirtier and more expensive.  

Educating customers on the complex energy system is challenging. OhmConnect meets customers where they are to market a product that hasn’t existed before.  

Here are three lessons from CEO Cisco DeVries:  

Build Trust

OhmConnect is a free service that provides customers free smart devices and pays them to change their energy use, so many people think it is a scam and too good to be true. The first roadblock to educating customers is building trust that it is a real company.  

OhmConnect builds trust by leveraging partnerships with businesses customers know and trust, such as Google and Carrier. As customers connect OhmConnect with trusted brands, they understand the new company better.   

Gamify the Process

Once people trust the business, OhmConnect makes it fun with gamification. The company’s goal is for customers to reduce their energy use—the better they do, the more points, rewards, and money they earn.  

DeVries points out that the game isn’t about teaching customers about the energy grid because no one would pay attention. But as customers play the game, they organically learn more about energy in their homes and how to make better decisions to reduce their energy use. At the end of the day, OhmConnect isn’t trying to get people to pass a test about how the energy grid works. It just wants them to succeed in the game.  

Creating a fun and engaging game lowers the point of entry and makes conserving energy accessible for customers. People may be overwhelmed by the thought of learning about the energy grid but more willing to dip their toes into a fun game that happens to teach them about energy along the way. When introducing something new, focus on what matters most to customers and leave behind what doesn’t.   

Constantly Test the Process

Educating customers is an evolving process that involves constant testing. OhmConnect regularly surveys customers and pulls data from their energy systems to see the effectiveness of their education efforts. The goal is to teach customers enough that they want to play the game and reduce their energy use but not to bore them with irrelevant details.   

The constant testing builds an incredible dataset that helps OhmConnect predict how much electricity can be reduced at any given time based on things like the time of day, weather, and type of device. The company lives and dies by the data and uses it to adjust its strategy.   

Introducing a new product and educating customers on something as critical as clean energy use is important but difficult. As OhmConnect demonstrates, meeting customers where they are and finding ways to build trust and gamify the process can build strong relationships and grow a company.


Blake Morgan is the bestselling author of The Customer of the Future. Join the new Customer Experience Community here. 

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