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4 Innovative Ways The Renewable Energy Sector Is Using Mobile Technology

By Guest Writer on May 30, 2016

sms-energy-company

While NGOs increasingly use mobile technology for monitoring and evaluation, in emerging markets like Kenya, businesses are also using mobile solutions to both advance sales and increase their impact. Social enterprises in the renewable energy sector have been especially forward-thinking, leveraging mobile technology to better understand their clients and support their Customer Relationship Management (CRM).

Realizing that mobile channels represent a cost-effective and scalable information management solution, companies such as One Degree Solar and Burn Manufacturing are engaging their clients through SMS and automated voice messaging (Interactive Voice Response) to support their customer relationships and inform their growth and impact strategy. These renewable energy companies are harnessing mobile technologies to extend their reach and give voice to the markets they serve. They are also using an integrated approach in which technology is used to sell but also measure the impact that their products have on client lives.

What are they using mobile technology for?

  • Product warranty activation: Clients activate their product warranty by texting their product serial number through a toll-free SMS. The activation triggers a set of questions that allow the company to understand where their products are going and who their clients are.When Burn Manufacturing, a clean-cookstove company, started activating warranties through SMS the number of registrations multiplied by six, from 5 to 33 percent, within two years. These activations have given them the needed data about their client base and their distributors to allow them to grow by more than 38 percent over the past year alone.
  • Post-sales customer support: Gone are the days when a client needs to make a call and wait on hold to speak to an agent. Innovative cookstove and solar lantern companies are making customer support hassle free for their clients. Their clients now send a toll-free SMS to troubleshoot an issue or make a product inquiry. If the pre-programmed menu does not resolve the client question, the last question in the pre-set menu asks if the person would like to be connected to a customer service agent. This increases the efficiency for both the client and the company.For instance, since providing toll-free SMS support, Burn Manufacturing has seen customer engagement go up by 30 percentage points. When they asked their clients about their satisfaction with the new SMS customer service hotline, more than 90 percent of the company’s clients expressed satisfaction in using this mode of communication.
  • Social impact surveys: Because many renewable energy companies are social enterprises, they measure their social impact on a regular basis. By using web-based platforms to create and send surveys via SMS, clean energy companies simplify and expedite the data collection process making it easier to access real-time information. These surveys can also be sent immediately or scheduled at recurring intervals for ongoing monitoring and evaluation.When a client purchases a One Degree Solar Brightbox, she is asked how much money she spent on kerosene in the last week. Upon answering this questions via SMS, the client then automatically receives the same question every six month. This simple and automated question provides key data for One Degree Solar on how the purchase of their product both saves their clients money and also reduces carbon footprint.
  • Marketing initiatives: In combination with traditional radio or print marketing campaigns, companies are generating sales leads through SMS and IVR.One Degree Solar, for example, ran a radio campaign in which they encouraged listeners to send a toll-free SMS for more information on their product. They quickly generated 1,700 SMS-inquiries and then within a month 10 percent of these leads turned into sales. Previously, when they only relied on a customer service hotline, the company was receiving only about 100 queries each month.

It is a commonly accepted truth that organizations need information to make effective decisions but in markets such as Kenya, data is scarce especially when it comes to getting information from rural areas and insular communities. By integrating mobile tools in their daily operations, clean energy companies are overcoming the barriers to communication to intimately understand the changing context they work in. Through this, organisations are making better and quicker decisions as well as achieving greater impact.

By Fabrice Romeo of Echo Mobile

Filed Under: Management
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5 Comments to “4 Innovative Ways The Renewable Energy Sector Is Using Mobile Technology”

  1. Joel Coulter says:

    Social Media is a part of a comprehensive ecosystem innovation enterprise that needs to advance ecosystem integration. There are two global EcoSystem Innovation Exchanges however having been part of Star-Tides global EcoSystem Innovation Promotion for 9 years more is needed than a web site and social media.

  2. JOHN GARRITY says:

    Very interesting post, Fabrice, particularly around the use of SMS to increase customer engagement and respond to customer inquiries. Do you have a sense of those 90% of respondents prefer SMS rather than live voice response? I’m curious if there is a shift similar to that of a preference to text instead of talk in everyday communications.

  3. Kellan Alexander says:

    Perfect use cases for TextIt, a web-based platform that enables anyone to build messaging applications and chatbots via SMS, IVR (voice) and social media (FB Messenger, Telegram and Twitter). See why thousands of organizations are using TextIt to manage their mobile engagement strategies in the US, Afica and elsewhere at http://www.textit.in.

  4. Kellan Alexander says:

    Perfect use cases for TextIt, a web-based platform that enables anyone to build messaging applications and chatbots via SMS, IVR (voice) and social media (FB Messenger, Telegram and Twitter). See why thousands of organizations are using TextIt to manage their mobile engagement strategies in the US, Africa and elsewhere at http://www.textit.in.