Project Description

End-to-End Retail Energy Management

Platform development transforms enrollments and fulfillment, commissions management

Our energy client required assistance in cutting the time it took to launch new or updated enrollment websites, sharpening brand enrollment processes, speeding up brand transition, and updating the commissions engine. Chateaux updated and improved critical front-end and back-end processes provide a comprehensive platform for end-to-end retail energy management, allowing the client to better manage their business and growth.

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The Challenge

Our energy client needed solutions to decrease time-to-market for new or updated enrollment websites from weeks to hours; sharpen brand enrollment processes; quicken brand transition; and update commissions engine.

Our client, a rapidly growing energy management company located in Stamford, CT, relies on the success of introducing and managing several enrollment websites for their family of brands. They execute new campaigns every month to capitalize on frequent national and state-based regulatory changes, resulting in high volumes of new customer acquisition or migration between brands. As a result, speed to market of these campaigns is critical for effectively acquiring revenue, while managing enrollments and commission payments ensures high customer experience and an incentivized sales force.

When the Chateaux team went behind the scenes to assess the process behind the client’s multi-channel marketing approach, it became clear that there was too much time spent on developing, finalizing, and implementing business requirements. There are 8-10 different teams involved when entering a new market, so coordination is key. However, web developers went back-and-forth multiple times to business leaders, which slowed execution of these campaigns to about 1-2 weeks per website.

In addition, each brand had its own enrollment process, with data flows back and forth from their electronic data interchange (EDI) and customer information systems (CIS) through their EC Infosystems (ECI) solution. Enrollment systems were separate, and there was no system of consolidating data flows between brands. EDI information was also not an integral part of these processes. As a result, moving customers between brands or consolidating brands to make room for others was a painful and lengthy process. The client’s current commissions engine also required updates to support new brands and sales types.

The Approach

Chateaux assembled a large team that would focus on three key areas of the business: web site creation and management; enrollments and fulfillment; commissions management.

Website Creation and Management
Chateaux selected Sitefinity, a leading web content management system from Progress, as the web management platform. Chateaux deployed Sitefinity within the Microsoft Azure cloud environment, leveraging its PaaS capabilities. All enrollment websites are deployed in the Azure cloud, and existing enrollment websites were also migrated to the Azure cloud.

Chateaux designed and tailored the Sitefinity platform to match the client’s high rapid application development (RAD) standards. The ability to modify specific areas of a website, such as regulatory terms, was centralized within the Sitefinity dashboard. Websites can be unpublished and republished with ease. Approvals on content for a new website and campaign is now also routed through the same Sitefinity interface, streamlining collaboration across multiple stakeholder groups. Creating and launching a new website, based on established templates, and optimized for every major mobile device, can be achieved in as little as 2 hours. This includes real-time credit checks with Experian and web-based analytics collection for use in traffic optimization.

Enrollments and Fulfillment
The client’s enrollment process is initiated from one of several branded websites or from the call center via spreadsheet. Specific brand rules (such as notifications prior to enrollment initiation, waiting a certain amount of days prior to action, making sure that a brand can consume a new client, third party verification, etc.) would apply. In some cases, a brand must be licensed within a new state before enrollment can begin. Customer communications (such as notifications, welcome kits, terms and conditions acceptance, etc.), also known as fulfillment, is also governed by this enrollment process.

Chateaux focused on better integration with ECI. This included enablement of large-scale EDI extractions into an enrollment system, and then sending updated information back to ECI to maintain an updated system of record. The ECI solution had to be analyzed in order to determine the location of specific data for a brand. Chateaux also helped to consolidate some brands, in order to make room for new brands such as Comcast; this involved moving around several accounts via EDI within ECI and aligning enrollment data from one brand with another brand.

Commissions Management
Chateaux also created a new commissions engine to support the complex calculations necessary for a multi-level marketing (MLM) network, from the ground up. Deep business knowledge was acquired by interviewing various stakeholders, to ensure proper payouts. Integration with Leads and Opportunities from Salesforce produces monthly tiered commissions. There are frequently special offers for a month, in which tiers and payout structure are updated within the commissions engine to drive additional sales.

The Result

Chateaux’s implementation of Sitefinity for our client has streamlined the entire process of content publishing and analytics tracking. They can now develop new enrollment websites and update their existing websites faster and much easier. This allows stakeholders to optimize time spent working with developers and slash time-to-market. Across their 10 different websites that are online today, there are hundreds of thousands of users that visit each site on a regular basis. Our client has also been able to partner with bigger brands such as Comcast for joint campaigns.

Chateaux was able to help update the systems involved in enrollment and commissions while creating better EDI integration with ECI. This in turn speeded inter-brand transition and allowed the client to energize the sales force with innovative incentives and programs. Bad practices such as slamming can also be better prevented as a result of the updates.

The new commissions engine supports a high volume of on-boarding new salespeople and payouts. It is now being extended to support multiple brands and different classes of salespeople. Workflow management capabilities to govern content approval processes are planned for deployment.

Chateaux’s work updated and optimized critical front-end and back-end processes. This created an overall platform for end-to-end retail energy management and allows the client to better manage themselves as a premier retail energy provider business while they continue to rapidly expand.

Over the last few years since we engaged Chateaux, we have been extremely impressed with their capabilities and ability to execute. Chateaux’s team of Architects, Designers and Developers has been completely instrumental to our business and technology success!

Vice President of Information Technology, Energy Client

About Our Energy Client

Our client is a Connecticut-based energy company that provides electricity, natural gas and solar products to nearly 800,000 residential and commercial customers.

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