Strategic UX research delivers the big picture

Essential Energy

Strategic UX research delivers the big picture

Essential Energy

Turning disruption into strategic transformation

Most of Australia's energy relies on coal and gas, both non-renewable fossil fuels. As Australia transitions to renewable energy, the traditional energy sector is facing immense disruption. Essential Energy is stepping up to the challenge, preparing for the future by putting their customers first.

Planning a digital strategy for a green energy future

Essential Energy wanted to understand how their digital presence can better help their customers transition to green energy. Responsible for maintaining and operating the electricity network across most of regional, rural and remote NSW and parts of southern Queensland, Essential Energy serves a large and diverse group of customers. They came to Pollen for the customer insights they needed to develop their five-year digital strategy.

Looking at every angle: 360 research

When we came on board, we took what we like to call a 360 approach. We believe the foundation of any strategy needs to be an evidence-based understanding of the three main players: the organisation, the users, and the market. Strategic UX research and the 360 approach provides a framework for tackling big problems that demand organisation-wide transformation.


Tapping into organisational expertise

The first step involved understanding Essential Energy as an organisation. Product strategy needs to take an organisation’s internal capabilities, strengths and weaknesses into account, because this will define their ability to build and maintain a product. 

In our interviews with the Essential Energy team, we discovered a major strength - a wealth of data on energy usage and habits that could be capitalised on to help their customers transition to green energy.


Identifying customer problems and pain points

Next, we focused on Essential Energy’s customers, who range from businesses and residential customers to councils, energy producers, and electrical engineers and builders. We conducted in-depth interviews with five users from each main customer group and ran unmoderated testing for the main residential customer experience. By understanding their customers’ problems and pain points, particularly those that their competitors can’t solve, Essential Energy can develop a far more effective strategy.


Assessing the competitive landscape

Lastly, we looked at the market and the digital presence of Essential Energy’s competitors. We assessed competitor strengths and weaknesses to help Essential Energy identify how they could leverage their strengths for competitive advantage. By assessing the competitor landscape, we were also able to pinpoint where Essential Energy fit in. We found they were in a unique position to be able to partner with other businesses in both traditional and renewable energy to transform the energy sector. 


As a distributor, Essential Energy slots into a unique position. They are relatively neutral because they do not sell solar panels directly, but they have personalised data about everyone’s energy usage. They have the data to provide a calculator to help their customers know how much solar energy they would need, and give them an objective assessment without a sales agenda. 

Essential Energy is also uniquely positioned to help businesses, who have to make a much more complex calculation about the ROI of solar and other green energy solutions. They are also in a position to partner with larger companies who want to provide green energy infrastructure, whether that’s charging stations or solar farms. This isn’t just a challenge of educating mum and dad consumers. Essential Energy needs to educate businesses and potential infrastructure partners about who they are and how they can work together to transform the energy sector.



Putting customers at the heart of digital strategy

We left Essential Energy with a deep trove of insights and a staged roadmap to help them build their digital communication capabilities and better educate their customers about the energy sector.
Since market conditions change frequently, we recommend that strategic UX research be conducted periodically. Making research a regular part of building a five-year digital strategic plan is a great way to both evaluate past performance and to make sure the organisation is prepared for the future. 
If you’d like to know more about your users and make them the core of your digital strategy, get in touch with our research team today. Fill in our contact form below or email us at [email protected]