VISEO accompagne Direct Energie sur Jo by VISEO
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VISEO developed Direct Energie's conversational agent

Setting up a chatbot to help customers understand and reduce their energy bills
September 21, 2017

Our innovation team worked with DIRECT ENERGIE to design and develop a consumer monitoring service through a chatbot accessible in messenger.

Born from the merger between Poweo and Direct Energie in 2003, the Direct Energie group has become, in less than 15 years, a major player in electricity and gas in France, and is gradually expanding in Belgium. Counting at the end of 2016 more than 2 million customers, and more than 400 employees, the group records since 2011 a remarkable growth.
The Direct Energie group bases its success on its technical expertise, the excellence of its customer relations and its ability to innovate. The importance given to its customers was rewarded for the 10th consecutive year: in fact, Direct Energie was elected Customer Service of the Year 2017.

An approach thought internally

Starting from the observation that its customers had trouble understanding their electricity bill, Direct Energie has created a Sprint Design to answer this problem. This innovative method allowed them to design and define a first prototype in just 3 days, with the ambition of realize the product in less than three months!
The various departments of the group, such as the marketing division, the digital department, the data department and the CIO, have been involved, thus ensuring the cohesion of everyone in defining objectives and having a shared vision. "We have prototyped very quickly a format of virtual assistant that guides you to save money, explains Mathilde Chapon, Customer Marketing Manager. The challenge for us was to find an agency capable of supporting us in the creation of this chatbot in a record time since we wanted a first production in less than three months.

A Customer Centric initiative as part of a global strategy

The energy player used to base its communication essentially on price differentiation and offers. The creation of this conversational agent allowed them to put the customer at the heart of the strategy by promoting AB Testing and by encouraging users to give their opinion. "Our goal was to launch a fast, valuable and useful service for customers, not to mention the loyalty aspect," says Mathilde Chapon. We already offer competitive offers but we wanted to go further by offering services that really help our customers save money. Today it is possible because we are able to analyze consumer data more precisely. "

A production in agile mode

After consulting several companies, VISEO, differentiated itself from its competitors by its approach in agile mode and was selected to carry out the project. "The agile approach of VISEO and their ability to set up a project very quickly by performing user tests at each Sprint was something quite new to us," admits Mathilde Chapon. We therefore wanted to test the approach with VISEO, who seemed to us an expert in the field."

The chatbot targets users who have a Linky meter, both prospects and customers of Direct Energie, and who are present on Facebook Messenger. VISEO Innovation team developed the chatbot in three stages. The objective was to help individuals reduce their consumption from the analysis of the connected electricity meter:

- The team first designed the personality and tone of the chatbot, which allows to humanize the conversational agent as a true advisor.
- Then came the design and writing phase of the chatbot's dialogues by creating the Chatbot's UX, designing a conversation enriched with visuals and data to simplify the understanding of the power consumption.
- And finally came the development and integration of the chatbot by developing particular formats and logic specific to the UX chosen for the agent.

"The added value of VISEO lies in its expertise on chatbots, its agile project management methodology and the proximity to the team that really accompanied us throughout the project," says Mathilde Chapon.

Jo is at the crossroads between IoT, data viz and artificial intelligence

This is the first chatbot to create a real service around the connected Linky counter. The latter allows access to consumption data more accurately (per day, per hour ...) than on an invoice.
After having established a first diagnosis of electricity consumption, he proposes a 4-week coaching program. Pedagogue, Jo explains the weekly consumption in the form of graph or equivalence (hour of use of a computer, euros ...). The coaching is personalized according to your profile (for example if you have a "peak / off-peak" package) and the information Jo asks you during the conversation ("you would not have a fridge by chance?"). Each week, his interlocutors can see the concrete impact of their actions and the application of the advice proposed by Jo, and see if their consumption actually decreases. Users can also ask questions that Jo understands through the integration of NLP (Natural Language Processing). In future versions, coaching will be more and more precise (analysis of consumption anomalies ...) and contextualized (weather, holidays ...).
"Unlike other bots, Jo behaves like a human, a real coach. Reassuring, didactic, light, sometimes ironic, he has a real personality and a tone, explains Thibault Celier, Director VISEO Innovation. "It is this personality, more than its algorithmic intelligence, that is a key success factor for this new type of service."
"Jo is also the first chatbot to address his female interlocutors ... A detail that counts to feel accompanied! To add credibility to the character, he also has a story: he has a particularly good relationship with his grandmother that he will sometimes quote. We worked with a screenwriter to design his character and his dialogues "adds Alice Vasseur, bot owner on the project and UX conversational expert at VISEO Innovation.
Thus, by reproducing the personalized and "humanized" relationship of the coach with his student, Jo creates engagement with users.

Jo, a popular chatbot

The first version of Jo was prototyped in 1 month and a half and launched between mid-May and mid-July with a sample of 500 people. We continuously improve it from user exchanges.
The first feedback from the service is positive. 80% of the users who tested the chatbot judged it useful service (Source: Direct Energy figures). "We validated the format of the service: the conversational agent is well received, users have joined the program."
Today Jo represents a dual challenge for Direct Energie: On the one hand, to bring value, service and customer loyalty and on the other hand, to recruit new customers via this free service.
"Providing coaching via a conversational format is a good lever to get new customers since people who did not know at all Direct Energie have tested the service and have been seduced," adds Mathilde Chapon.
Finally, is not Chatbot the future of customer relations? "This chatbot came to confirm that this strategy was the right one and that we needed to bring out other value-added services to gain visibility in our market and especially to differentiate ourselves from our competitors through innovation and a customer centric approach".

 

How did Direct Energie develop their Chatbot?
Mathilde Chapon, Customer Marketing Manager & Thierry Moussu, Head of Digital Partnerships, speak about it
Our innovation team worked with Direct Energie to design and develop a consumer monitoring service through a chatbot accessible in messenger. Our client testifies.