What went wrong in August and what we are doing to fix it
First and foremost, we want to get it out there that we aren’t here to trick or fool you.
It is guaranteed that when you’re paving a new road, you’re going to run into some roadblocks. We won’t always get it right straight out of the gate but we can promise that we’re learning from our mistakes and implementing change so we don’t make the same mistakes twice.
We’re a new and innovative REP in the industry aiming to be one of very few – if not the only – REP that’s driven by doing what’s best for the customer.
With all that said, in August we had a wake-up call. We realized there were a few things we didn’t plan accordingly for, areas we fell short, and instances where we ultimately let a lot of you down. Looking back at August 2019, there are 3 major areas that weren’t up to our standards when the high peak times came around: how we were educating our current/potential members, our member experience backlog, and a specific aspect of our dial.
Before this August, we always thought we educated our members pretty darn well. We had evangelists that could go to bat for Griddy and knew us backwards and forwards. So that alone is a win, right? Well, not a big enough win. This summer we were humbled by the fact that we could have done better.
We always thought that explaining we have no control over the real-time wholesale price, that it is set by ERCOT (the grid operator), and has the ability to change every 5-minutes was enough. But we know now we need to do better. It should have been highlighted everywhere.
We now know that we have to pivot. We are redesigning our entire website, adding a learning center to our blog, and are making sure you have as much information as possible whether that be through email, push notifications, the app or on social. We are moving away from the more salesy way of marketing to a more educational way.
What we really learned in August 2019 is that our biggest fans, the members who love Griddy and stuck with us through August, are the members who understand us wholeheartedly. We shouldn’t have been afraid to overload you with information. Our best evangelists know all the information about the wholesale market and its peaks and pits and they are still hardcore Griddsters. They are the ones that understand that in the long run, like over the course of a year, the wholesale price of electricity is proven to win over a fixed rate time and time again.
So prepare for way more education on our ads, on our socials, on our website, on our blog, and in your inbox. You’re welcome!
Member Experience backlog:
We experienced a huge backlog in August. We were growing at an extremely fast rate, way more than we had in our first year of targeted marketing. The mistake we made was not having enough Member Experience representatives and not hiring more when numbers started to increase. Before August, we always wanted to keep our Member Experience team in house. This way our members could create a bond with our team so that if there was an app issue, the chain to getting that issue escalated was as quick as possible. But in doing this, in trying to keep or Member Experience team small and close, we fell short of our customer service standards in August.
Since August, we have added more people to our Member Experience team and introduced a backup call service for when/if volumes go up that much again. But what we want you to know is that when the backlog happened we had as many hands-on deck that we could answering calls, responding to voicemails, emails, and private messages. But the reality is, Griddy is a team of around 50 people and at the time, that just didn’t cut it.
The dial when it came to adders:
Now this one is a tougher pill to swallow and I guess where we can say our ego kicked in a little. So we’ve said time and time again that the real-time wholesale price has the ability to change every 5-minutes. Well, that real-time price is what is shown on the dial and what is referred to as the Locational Marginal Price or LMP. Now the price changes every 5 minutes, but smart meters only measure usage in 15-minute intervals. Normally, the 15-minute price is just the average of three of those 5-minute LMPs.
But sometimes, normally less than 1% of the time (and this is where we can say the ego kicked in), when the amount of available generation capacity starts to get really low, ERCOT tacks on "adders" to the price. In early August it was more apparent that those adders were not included in the LMP and thus, not on the dial.
Now, we're constantly pinging the ERCOT system for pricing data from two different components – the LMP price and the Operating Reserve Demand Curve (ORDC) Adders. Sometimes the Adders data isn't there right away (like in the beginning of the 5-minute interval) so our system checks every minute for that data and will update the dial when new data appears instead of just updating once within the 5-minute interval like it was doing before.
There are still other things we know we need to update, things August shed a light on that weren’t working properly. Here’s a quick snapshot of that.