Stronghouse Customer Relations Management Workshop

07 March 2022 - Published by Deirdre Buist
During the course of the Stronghouse project, we have discovered the value of workshops dealing with a particular topic related to the consortium’s work supporting homeowners energy renovation journey. On 3rd March, the latest online in-depth exchange and dedicated discussion took place when a number of partner representatives met to share and compare Customer Relation Management tools and how these are helping to track the energy transition.

Drents EnergieLoket (DEL)

Daniel van der Kleij from the Drents EnergieLoket (DEL) kicked off the work session by taking the group through this online platform for homeowners in search of retrofit information. DEL have adapted an existing CRM from partners at NMFD as other options proved expensive. Following a survey amongst their partners, the CRM now registers data to produce a wide range of monitoring  information,  providing reports, to-do-lists, mailing lists and registered contact moments.


Drents EnergieLoket is digital platform for retrofit information

Filtering information

Everyone who shares their data joins the system. DEL can filter on, for instance, house typology, energy bills, EPC etc. Details about contracted work or  measures planned/undertaken can also be noted. As all accounts are included in the generated management reports, this also gives an excellent overview of what’s happening in all 12 municipalities in the region.

Work efficiency

DEL’s CRM system is extremely efficient to work with as it also supports sending targeted group mailings and an automatically generated newsletter. It also monitors how many have read the newsletter and what articles are of most interest. This can be very helpful when designing communication and engagement strategies.

Next step would be to give homeowners an individual overview and provide them with additional insights, and advice about potential measures. In an ideal world that would be linked to receiving an offer/quote from a company.

Interest spike

Meanwhile the DEL has been extremely busy. During lockdown but also as a result of the current energy crisis, the rocketing prices and panic in the market. In February 2022 more than 30,000 people contacted the platform – a huge spike in interest! Most information requests revolve around the  financing possibilities for retrofit  (subsidies, tax relief etc.) but there is also a large interest in insulation measures and solar panels. 

Using Google Maps and Analytics, the DEL system also highlights  areas of energy renovation activity, which is useful when planning targeted actions and effective campaigning. While the system helps to create an extremely efficient workflow, there are always possibilities to improve.


Stekr data made visual in graphs and graphics

IGEMO & Stekr

Ivan Van Elst presented IGEMO’s customer management system, Stekr, which is comparable. This was launched in 2019 and represents 9 Belgian municipalities. The Flemish partner’s CRM system is built within their website – working with Microsoft Dynamics and Sharepoint – so everything is linked. The  CRM collects all the advice given to homeowners and, for each advice, IGEMO tracks the homeowner’s customer journey.  

Face-to-face contact

Stekr gives face-to-face advice  – in contrast to the online approach of the  Drents EnergieLoket - providing a unique  assistance for the less digitally learned. However, service is becoming increasingly strained with the soaring interest in energy efficiency and only three retrofit coaches in full employment. The thermo-scan coaches are trained volunteers.

IGEMO has a focus on low-income households, including households where Dutch is not the first language.  The organization also aims to connect  the homeowner and the supplier directly with each other, using a pool of registered contractors.


Stekr and DEL are comparible platforms

Notable shares

Following these two presentations, representatives from Robert Gordon University, Gate 21 and atene KOM also joined the discussions. Notable points shared include:

  • In the UK the workflow is very different. They’re now using a retrofit coordinator  (a project manager), followed by a retrofit accessor, a retrofit designer and then a retrofit installer. This process is compulsory for public buildings but also soon to become so for private homes. In Belgium all these tasks are being done by one person…retrofit coach.
  • All partners mention the shortage of  energy coaches - these are hard to find. Therefore, DEL now works with volunteers.
  • With the rising energy prices, coaches, constructors and suppliers are in high demand. The waiting list is long.
  • In the Netherlands and Denmark, delays in implementing the work also endanger eligibility for   subsidies. Planning can be a problem as some grants are only valid for a year and all work has to be done within a limited time.
  • IGEMO has a pool of suppliers with registered contact details of companies, (e.g. specialists in solar panels). Customer advice and energy coach visits are noted and progress monitored. Data  selection can be by municipality or measure, detailed retrofit advice, process and measures taken.
  • Graphs show what kind of advice has been given, for example. Largely this is finance related.

Joint challenges

In conclusion, this exchange session on  Customer Relations Management and the tools used provided valuable insights for all participants. While a statistical comparison between the Stronghouse partners is not practical due to regional disparities (e.g. different sized communities, opening times, capacity, trained workforce), Gate21 and RGU are very keen to share  the CRM experience presented by  DEL and IGEMO with their other partners. All recognize similar issues and recent extremes in relation to technical staff, material shortages, soaring energy prices and a rocketing customer demand.

Stronghouse will continue its support of the homeowners’ journey towards energy efficiency and  renovation, jointly facing the many challenges emerging on the currently unpredictable market.

 Visit the Stekr website  or Drents Energieloket