Mobile Commerce Daily is now Retail Dive: Mobile Commerce! Click here to learn more!

NRG Energy prioritizes mobile, social to enhance CRM initiatives

NEW YORK – An NRG Energy exec said his company tapped SAP AG to enhance its customer relationship management platform by adding mobile and social elements to its direct-to-consumer and business-to-business initiatives.

Specializing in traditional power generation, as well as sustainable, renewable energy sources such as solar farming and windmills, NRG Energy Inc. is collaborating with car manufacturers to plan an electric-vehicle charging pilot for June. Smartphones and connected devices such as tablets and social networks such as Facebook and Twitter are key aspects of the company’s roadmap, per the executive speaking at a luncheon hosted by SAP.

“We are creating the infrastructure for charging electric cars, and we deployed SAP’s lead management CRM system,” said Pankaj Rana, CRM lead at NRG Energy, Houston. “We are focused on the target consumers who will use the electric vehicles, as well as a B2B element with the places they can charge the vehicles, focusing on Walmart, Best Buy and CVS.

“We’re interacting with those companies to give them a fleet of electric cars, and they will have charging stations in their parking lots,” he said. “When our folks go to consumers for assessment, we want them to be on an iPad, so we’ve integrated the iPad with our solution to make them more mobile.

“We don’t want them to just be on iPhone or BlackBerry.”

NRG Energy provides electricity and energy services to more than 1.5 million retail customers—including homes, small and large businesses, manufacturing facilities, government entities and institutions across Texas. 

SAP AG is a German software corporation that provides enterprise software applications and support to businesses worldwide. It acquired Sybase Inc. last year and claims to be the largest enterprise software company in the world.

Vinay Iyer, New York-based vice president of global CRM marketing at SAP AG, hosted the event for press and analysts.

Mobile-social CRM
So why did NRG Energy decide to focus on Apple’s iPhone and iPad and Research In Motion’s BlackBerry for its application development?

In a word: security.

“Android does not pass our security levels, whereas the iPhone, iPad and BlackBerry do,” Mr. Rana said. “That’s why you see a lot of enterprises using BlackBerry—security clearance is a big issue.”

On the consumer side, Reliant Energy is focused on capturing customer intelligence data such as social graph, demographic information, age group, interests and what time of day and how long they use and charge their electric vehicles.

“A 360-degree view of our customers is key for us, knowing their history from the hand-razor lead-generation stage to emergency activations and services,” Mr. Rana said.  “We want to take the entire life cycle of leads, disposition them and convert them into an order—realize them into cash basically.

“We implemented SAP CRM for our prospect journey as part of our roadmap to go to the next level,” he said.

When cars hit the road this summer, Reliant Energy will have an interaction center where customers can call in to submit a complaint, get information or make a payment.

While NRG Energy’s first priority is launching applications for its employees’ smartphones and tablets, eventually the company would like to launch consumer-facing applications so customers could search for the nearest charging station and find out how long the queue is at each.

For the initial trial, NRG wants to cap consumers’ cost at $80 per month for charging, in the ballpark of what most drivers spend on gas in a week.

NRG is working towards wireless activation, which would let it access charging station at home or out and about for billing and tech support, as well as the enabling and disabling of the charging mechanism.

“We want to see seamless integration between both sides of the wall,” Mr. Rana said. “Putting this on SAP CRM platform, we can call in for emergency activations as well, which carries a one-time charge.

“We want to start tapping social media to engage our customer base across Facebook and Twitter, not just email campaigns and phone outbounds, but also through social media,” he said. “We want to turn leads into cash in a tweet-to-cash scenario.”

Final Take
Digs – Mega Watt

Sybase’s Bryan Whitmarsh