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Direct Energie: an omnichannel approach for a better customer experience

Direct Energie: an omnichannel approach for a better customer experience

2003. The French energy market is starting to open up. Direct Energie is disrupting the two traditional providers i.e. EDF and Engie (formerly GDF Suez).

Date : December 15th 2017

Category : Thought Leadership

Direct Energie’s byword? The customer. Its approach? Improving rapidity, simplicity and relevancy to provide a high-quality customer experience. We asked Matthieu Tanguy – previously Head of Digital and Marketing, and now General Manager at Total Direct Energie – five questions about the energy provider’s omnichannel strategy.


Why prioritise customers?

Customer experience is something of an obsession at Direct Energie and with very good reason. To encourage customers to switch from what they have always known i.e. EDF for electricity and Engie for gas, we must be able to offer them something much better. And it’s not just about price. Especially as customers think it is really complicated to switch providers. In fact, it only takes nine minutes according to Google Analytics. The switch, which is a paperless process, happens 24 to 48 hours later.


The omnichannel approach: challenge or reality?

If you are interesting in providing a positive customer experience then you have to take an omnichannel approach. While it is a source of opportunities, the omnichannel approach also creates constraints. Optimising any given channel in a unique customer journey is complicated. Optimising several channels is challenging to say the least. So, we considered the matter from another viewpoint to see how the various channels could help us improve and simplify the consumer journey.


How is Direct Energie removing friction points from the customer journey?

In our omnichannel approach, I can think of three examples of how we improved the customer journey:

  • From mobile to web. When prospective customers start the signing up process, they can save their entered data and finish up later on a different device. Why? Well, maybe they need time to consider before fully committing or perhaps they don’t have some necessary information to hand (e.g. the meter number). Almost 2,000 customers switch from one channel to another every month.
  • From mobiles to call centres. In the past, we promoted the Direct Energie website via mobile advertisements. Once visitors landed on our website, we then pushed the click-to-call function. Two years ago, we decided to feature our number much earlier on i.e. in the AdWords advertisement by activating the ‘call extension’ function. The result? Our click-to-call sales rocketed by 30%. By optimising and rejigging the semantics and the customer journey, we were able to improve our conversion rate.
  • From phone to digital. Many customer journeys start on mobile devices (e.g. 80% of journeys linked to moving house). Digital technology can significantly streamline this journey, which has a positive impact on the customer experience and our costs. For example, you need to know your meter reading before you can switch providers yet customers don’t always have this information to hand. To remove this friction point, we offer the option of filling in the form online and then sending the meter reading via a mini-chatbox (which ask four questions). Dozens of customers share their meter readings with us in this way every day.


What about measuring performance?

At Direct Energie, we now trigger media campaigns based on signals from omnichannels; we have moved away from measurement to activating measurement.

Matthieu Tanguy - General Manager, Total Direct Energie


In the past, our digital media campaigns were based on the online conversion rate. Two years ago, we began basing our campaigns on online and click-to-call conversions. However, this wasn’t enough especially in the professional segment. We then decided to test the Freespee dynamic tracking tool. It generates numbers on the fly and allocates a sale to a phone number based on an email, a transaction or an advertisement. We plan to generalise this approach, which we first tested in the professional segment,

We also trialled the beta version of Google Store Sales Direct to reconcile online investments with offline sales, and create a veritable omnichannel return on investment.


And tomorrow’s customer experience? Voice, AI or machine learning?

We have a lot of faith in the messaging channel, which combines the best of chat and the best of email. This is why we have added a messaging solution to our app and have developed Messenger bots. It is a natively mobile channel, which can be easily ‘augmented’ with artificial intelligence.

We also believe in the benefits of artificial intelligence (AI) and are studying two areas:

  • Quality. How can AI improve customer relations and the customer experience? Maybe by helping our customer advisers find answers to our customers’ problems on a 24/7 basis.
  • Giving advice. As an energy provider, our role is also (increasingly) to help our customers better manage their energy consumption. Data, coupled with AI, can help us change our values and, in a way, our profession.


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