What digital experience lessons can energy brands learn from OVO Energy
Founded in 2009, OVO Energy is a relatively recent entrant to the home energy market.
It’s a competitive industry with many established players, though the growth in numbers of consumers switching suppliers does give challenger brands a chance to take some market share.
User experience can play a key part here. If sites can make their proposition clear, provide the help that customers need, and ensure a smooth switching process, then this can help them to persuade customers to switch to them.
In this article, we’ll look at the OVO Energy website to see what other brands can learn from its user experience, and any areas in which it can improve.
An energy provider’s homepage has a lot of work to do, as it’s likely the first port of call for many potential customers on a site like this.
While for many ecommerce sites, much search and other traffic will head straight to product and category pages, it’s likely that OVO Energy’s homepage will be the single most popular page on the website.
It needs to service existing customers who are looking for information, or perhaps things like customer service contact details, as well as selling the brand and products to potential new customers.
Many sites use a kind of ‘inverted pyramid’ pattern for homepages as a way to serve different user needs.
In this case, the most prominent areas of the homepage reflect what most users want when they visit, as well as what the brand wants to promote first.
The reason is that new customers need to be able to find what they need quickly, while existing users will be more prepared to take the time to find what they need. These existing users are also more familiar with the layout of the page.
In the case of OVO Energy, and many sites right now during the pandemic, information related to Coronavrius is prominent. After this, OVO Energy’s homepage is mainly about new customer acquisition, with much of the page devoted to calls to action, key USPs and available tariffs.
Contrast this to British Gas, which promotes a rage of different information and tools for users, including submitting meter readings and bill management. If you scroll up and down the British Gas homepage, it’s reasonably hard to pick out a quote call to action, but this is not the case with OVO Energy.
Information for other users, and existing customers is mainly at the top of the page where there are links to ‘My OVO’ and customer service, as well as in the footer.
For prospective customers, OVO Energy makes its key proposition clear, presenting three tariffs with a clear description of each.
It also gives plenty of space to show its customer review scores and a sample customer comments.
Energy companies haven’t always had the greatest customer service ratings, and this is clearly an area where OVO Energy feels it has an advantage.
The quote process
The quote process is an area where bad UX can mean customers run into trouble completing forms, which take too long and potentially abandon through frustration.
Once customers have decided to get a quote, the key is to keep that momentum going through a smooth quote process which is fast and easy to complete.
The initial form step is simple and doesn’t ask too much, so this helps to get things moving. An address look-up tool speeds up the process, as do radio buttons for the remaining options.
The next step is a quick question about whether the house is compatible for smart meters, before the user is presented with their quota and tariff options.
It’s important to note here that the potential customer hasn’t been asked for current energy usage details. Some sites ask for current usage, or even specific details about their current energy provider and specific plan.
These details can help provide a more accurate quote but it also complicates the process and potentially takes the user away from the screen as they look around the house for the latest bill.
The next step after the tariff selection is a little more complex as OVO Energy cross-sells other add-ons to tariffs, but the calls-to-action to progress or have the quote emailed to the user are clear.
After this, there are two more steps – to conform contact details, and then to add bank information for bill payment.
OVO Energy adds some useful microcopy on the side which helps to answer key questions customers may have at this stage, explaining that they don’t need to tell their existing supplier, and what happens if that supplier objects.
Overall, it’s a six step process from entering postcode details to completing the switch. However, these are all small steps with clear questions, which require the minimum of data entry from users.
In the case of forms, it can often be better to chunk up relatively long forms into smaller stages. They can see the whole of each step at a glance, and this seems much less effort for the user.
Once they’re in the flow of the form, it’s about keeping this momentum going, and avoiding any unnecessary friction that may deter them.
OVO Energy provides a very focused customer journey for potential customers, with a very clear brand proposition, persuasive content on the homepage and clear calls-to-action for quotes.
It follows this up with a smooth quote and switching process which takes the customer through without making them work too hard, while providing key information where it’s needed.
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Graham Charlton is Editor in Chief at SaleCycle and former Editor of Econsultancy and ClickZ. When he’s not creating content, he can be found listening to vinyl, spending time with the family and enjoying the odd glass of red wine.