In our second “Stop Thinking Channels, Start Thinking Journeys” webinar with our partner Thunderhead, we spoke to Florian Riedl, Head of Digital at Energie Baden-Württemberg AG (EnBW), one of the largest energy companies in Germany and Europe. Riedl shared both their successful digitization initiative and the implementation of their cross-channel personalization strategy, which was implemented using the Thunderhead engagement platform. 

In case you missed the webinar, below is a summary of the most important insights. Use them to learn what a successful personalization strategy can look like across different channels.

Digitalization begins with the customer

To start the webinar, Riedl presented an overview of EnBW's brands and product portfolio — from energy trading, transmission, and distribution networks to offshore wind farms and solar fields to end-customer supply, storage solutions for the home, and e-mobility. In doing so, he clarified EnBW's major challenge: the seamless integration of the various EnBW brands, products, and services into the customer journey.

In 2016, EnBW launched "EnPower", their largest digitalization program to date. EnPower spanned three EnBW brands and extended over several years. Gradually, more and more customers were brought to the new IT platform, which served as the basis for new digital customer experiences in the end customer portal, over the phone, and in sales.

According to Riedl, the goal of the sales-related IT and process landscape was primarily to create more added value in sales. With the go-live in summer 2019, employees can now create campaigns, websites, or products themselves and make them available to customers. And they can do all of this independently of other corporate departments such as IT or business analytics.

EnBW also operates their own app — mobility+ — one of the largest and most popular e-mobility apps in the German-speaking market and test winner at Connect. With this app, there was a need for customer-facing action. EnBW prioritized ensuring that the app can be used to its full extent at all times and with the absolute best customer experience possible.

Customer focus shapes platform architecture

For each product category — for example, e-mobility, electricity, or gas billing — there is a specific backend on the platform. The highlight: each backend is linked to the collected touchpoints of the customer journey, which are connected in a holistic customer profile in compliance with GDPR  and enriched with additional user data. Riedl explained that personalized campaigns and other measures are derived from this data and fed back to the touchpoints.

In addition to the EnBW website and the customer service telephone lines, the interaction points also include various other apps and websites. In other words, the customer can choose how they interact with EnBW. "We take care," Riedl said, "that customer communication takes place on the channel that is chosen by the customer and that he actually finds most pleasant for himself." With the help of the platform, EnBW is able to find out in which stage of the customer lifecycle the customer is currently in. That way, they can design their personalized approach for that specific customer.

As far as next-best-action, Riedl argued against the classic approach — because it ignores the customer's intention and the customer's journey. "Has the customer just experienced a nuisance from us? Is he dissatisfied with us? Then he should not be part of a sales campaign. It doesn't fit together." Sales, service, and technical teams must work together in an agile and cross-functional way.

The future: next best action and next best offer

Riedl asserted that today, our world is controlled by an omnichannel journey — a customer journey across different channels. "Our central hub in this is the Next Best Action (NBA) or the Next Best Offer (NBO). This is fully implemented in Thunderhead," he added. Based on the collected data, the right NBA is determined for each customer to ensure that the customer's experience matches the campaign intent.

The entire interaction across the different channels works by linking to automatic triggers. This drastically changes the approach and the expectations. Using this platform and the prescribed NBA, EnBW gains perspective on the right moment to push the next engagement or campaign.

In fact, Riedl was able to present concrete use cases to illustrate how EnBW reacts to the demands of the omnichannel world.

Use Case 1: Promoting additional sales
EnBW currently offers three additional options to their electricity contracts: green electricity, price guarantee, and a household insurance package. (Others will be added over the course of the coming year.) "We have to succeed," Riedl said, "in ensuring that a customer who calls the customer service department gets the right campaign and that the agent points out the right product for him." This requires a dynamic system that takes into account the customer's current situation. Was the customer previously on the website or in the app? Has the person just received an invoice? Is it possibly higher than expected? To calculate the correct NBA, all this information must be taken into account in real-time.

Use Case 2: Personalizing customer journeys
In addition, every customer profile can be personalized — and so can communication and interaction. In this way, for example, the Voice Portal can be skipped and the customer can be routed directly to an agent. Alternatively, they can ask a more specific question directly in the Voice Portal. If the customer has already checked the help pages on the company website before the call, she can be put through directly to the right customer advisor for faster problem-solving.

Use Case 3: Creating the onboarding journey for new customers
In a typical onboarding journey, the new customer is immediately recognized as such and can be seamlessly integrated into the best experience — whether by offering the right communication channels, permissions, or activities in the portal. "Here, the Next Best Action is particularly important," Riedl emphasized. That's exactly where Thunderhead comes in by tracking, measuring, and optimizing all activities in the digital channels.

Use Case 4: Landing new customers
Thunderhead also generates advantages for EnBW in the area of ​​new customer acquisition. Especially with their large product portfolio, it is important to offer the right products at the right time and through the right channel. Information for lead generation must also be requested at the right time. "This is the point," summarized Riedl, "where we can say, by far, that Thunderhead has helped us the most along the way to implement these functions as well as possible."

Do you want to learn more about how to make your customer journeys more personalized and customer-centric? 

Outlook: Where will the journey go in 2021?

Finally, Riedl takes a look into the future with us: "At the moment, many processes still take place in isolation, and people still like to think in isolated use cases," he said. "We are not yet in a position to combine every type of interaction with every real Next Best Action — but that is exactly our goal." The way to get there? "It's through the use of holistic customer profiles, greater customer activation — including via social media — and even more dynamic campaigns on various channels."