- Tendril has acquired FirstFuel, the company said in a blog post this week, in a deal aimed at helping rapidly build out its customer engagement and experience solutions for utilities to serve their business accounts.
- Tendril had already acquired two other companies this year, EEMe and EnergySavvy, but each of those was focused on the residential sector.
- The company's growth strategy is focused on acquiring segment leaders. FirstFuel has deployed its business-focused products with 35 utilities.
As the utility sector's focus on customer engagement grows, Tendril is using acquisitions to rapidly and widely grow its offerings.
"No longer are power plants, poles and wires a utility's greatest asset. It's the customer," Tendril CEO Adrian Tuck wrote, announcing the deal.
"Our strategy is to acquire leaders in their respective spaces," Tuck wrote, explaining the idea is "to build an end-to-end solutions company."
Tendril sees opportunity in the commercial customer area: Business customers make up 60% of most utilities' load and revenue, and more than 60% of new programs and products, the company said. And FirstFuel's products have yielded 25% increases in business customer satisfaction, "doublings of digital enrollment/engagement and increases in conversion rates and yields" in efficiency, demand side management and electrification programs.
Tendril's acquisitions have been varied, but data-focused.
EnergySavvy develops both customer-facing and internal systems, which Tendril plans to merge with its advanced energy analytics in a variety of products. Acquiring EEme allowed Tendril to add non-intrusive load monitoring and disaggregation capabilities to its data analytics platform.
As customer service grows beyond paper bills, utilities are turning to outside vendors for help in offering modern engagement tools. And beyond customer service, utilities also see the potential to better market rates, services and programs as grid planning tools.
A recent utility innovation report from Deloitte put it this way: "The utility customer of the future has a personal relationship with their utility."
The firm predicts utilities will soon offer dedicated smart-home platforms accessible online and through mobile apps, ultimately delivering a "personalized, data-driven customer experience in real time."
Tendril's Tuck wrote that the company believes using customer data to "exhibit a deep knowledge of the individual and how they interact with energy becomes the crux of personalization."