National Grid Gets Customers to Go Paperless, Saves Millions
Other products weren’t robust enough and didn’t do what we needed.Maureen McInerey
Principal Software Engineer, National Grid
The UK’s biggest utility company is also the second largest in the US. More than six million people in the Northeast get their power from National Grid, making it one of the world’s largest shareholder-owned utilities. With electricity and gas rates highly regulated, National is always looking to cut costs.
The company wants to bump investor returns for US operations, and is looking to cut $200 million in spending annually. One of many ways they’re trimming costs is to encourage energy efficiency (a natural money-saver for utilities) and switching to electronic statements. Getting customers to switch from paper statements isn’t just eco-hip: e-bills cost $0.40 less per month to produce.
National wanted to measure and improve these campaigns and how visitors used its site overall. But that meant getting many customers registered online first, dealing with IT changes from its recent restructuring, and keeping training time and new equipment purchases to a minimum. National also needed to see how visitors navigated through entire transactions. It wanted to increase site registrations, put energy efficiency information where it would get the best response, and push push push electronic billing.
National Grid already had an older version of Webtrends, but had only been using it for general site usage reporting. Webtrends Solutions Engineers showed the utility how the software could be used for campaign management.
The company said it considered other solutions but that Webtrends was the most robust, scalable and flexible for its needs. Sticking with Webtrends meant staff wouldn’t have to learn a whole new system. On-Demand services meant it wouldn’t have to acquire new hardware. So far, so good.
National also had some IT goals. “Some visitors would start on a downstate server then be transferred upstate depending on the data needed to complete a transaction,” says Maureen McInerney, National Grid’s Principal Software Engineer. By tracking how visitors navigate and making it easier for them to do what they want, National hopes to streamline its hardware setup as well.
National Grid is just completing its Webtrends implementation, but is optimistic about its prospects. Most visitors are now registering with the site, giving National contact information to keep customers plugged in energy-saving info.
Just under 10% of National’s clients are enrolled in paperless billing as of early 2011. That’s set to grow by 250% by fiscal year 2012, when a quarter of customers will have switched from paper.