Chloé Joly | Interview
Systematically doing good and remaining genuine while growing a business with ekWateur Innovation Manager, Chloé Joly
Why Authenticity is the Key to Growing Your Business ekWateur Innovation Manager, Chloé Joly
With a background in marketing, design, and engineering, Chloé’s a bit of a career chameleon. She started her career working on business transformation for a consulting firm, specialising in the energy sector, before having a brief tenure at SNCF (France’s state-owned rail company). Her role now at ekWateur — a green/renewable collaborative energy supplier — revolves around building entirely new offers and services from scratch.
Can you tell us about your work at Ekwateur?
Paris-based, ekWateur is a sustainable digital energy supplier with a new way of talking and caring about customers. I joined ekWateur in May 2016 to work on their energy subscription processes. Within a few months we developed all the structure required to welcome our first beta testers before launching in September — we were only 10 people at the time, we went crazy fast to develop everything. It was such an exciting time! A few years later, I was put in charge of innovation: I’m working on building new offers and services around the energy contract.
I’m technically an IT project manager but my role at ekWateur encompasses marketing, product, and engineering… I find that cross-functional teams (like the ones that we have at ekWateur) are particularly valuable as you can quickly understand both the technical and process implications of whatever you’re trying to achieve. We are then able to shorten the time to market by identifying the minimum viable product, releasing, testing and gathering data before iterating and improving for future releases.
We also put a strong emphasis on understanding our customers — it’s at the heart of everything we do. To facilitate and encourage this, we make everyone on our team join our call centers, just so they can interact with our customers and understand their specific problems and needs. This means everyone at ekWateur understands the “Why?” of their project and have a clear understanding and relationship with the people we are developing new features and functionality for.
Tell us a bit more about your subscription model
Subscriptions are different in every business, but they’re especially complex and process-driven in the energy industry. You have to work around non-digital processes (which is a pain). Then, if you do want to digitize it or build a better solution, you have to collaborate with many different parties… and that ultimately brings its own challenges and hurdles that need to be overcome.
Here’s an example: you usually need a 14-digit-long code (a PDL) just to begin a subscription process with an energy provider. It’s long, complex, and hidden within a ream of documents… So it’s a huge pain getting people to find it and then enter it without mistakes. As a result, we’ve created our own systems to help customers do this — you scan the paper and we instantly find it for you.
We’ve found that the key to subscriptions lies in reducing the number of steps: eliminating all unnecessary friction. Plus, people enjoy it if you can insert humour or gamification — we’ve even managed to make our legal section pretty funny. Sometimes companies underestimate how valuable it can be to make things fun and jokey… Nowadays it’s a big part of being user-friendly. But it should not go against transparency, which is also one of our key values. People need care and love, and we definitely work on giving it to them.
We started looking at analytics when the need for feature optimization presented itself. Due to the complexity of our subscription processes, we came to the quick realization that we didn’t have access to data we needed, the analytics tool chosen was not fit for purpose and it took us a number of months to understand and rectify this.
How important is mobile for you?
There are very few digital-first companies in the energy sector. At ekWateur, our success and scalability has relied and will continue to rely on digital moving forward. We are a digital platform first and energy second. We’ve noticed that the energy industry as a whole has an image of not being sexy and comes off as a bit dated. We have made some big leaps in this area already and we will continue to build on this by focusing on mobile first processes.
Digital will help to facilitate people in changing energy suppliers more frequently and also help transition users to more green energies. If you make people want to download and use your app, people will begin to care about how energy works nowadays: where it comes from, and how it’s used. Once they begin to care about that, you can then educate them on why green and renewable energy is so important.
CUSTOMER STORY: Ekwateur, a France-based Green Energy company, used Massive Rocket to design their first lightweight growth stack and build it into their processes in order to make rapid, data-driven decisions at low cost. Read the full story here >
How do you systematically do good and remain genuine as ekWateur grows?
First things first, we have a cause that we align with and truly believe in. Secondly, be transparent as possible — if we make mistakes, we’re the first to acknowledge the issue and then work on addressing it. I think that this part of the company culture comes from the employees. We’re a small team that shares our customers’ values, and we thoroughly screen all potential candidates before hiring any new employees.
We hold regular monthly committee meetings where we discuss what’s going on, what our next focus is, and how we remain true to our values. Maintaining this requires ongoing work, — day in, day out.
We actually have our own framework in place for staying true to our values:
- Prioritize communication
- Be transparent
- Involve your customers
- Start taking small steps today
Focus on the final impact: Are you helping people? Are you making a difference? This definitely isn’t black or white — you need to take small steps. You can’t change the world without being part of it. You need to use all available opportunities (no matter how big or small) to change the world.
Just keep focusing on how you can make a positive impact. That’s it!
Why Authenticity is the Key to Growing Your Business
As companies scale, it can sometimes be hard for them to remain true to their values. Words like “authenticity” and “transparency” are often banded around — but when push comes to shove, money is what matters most.
So why should you choose to stay true to your values? And how can you do this while continuing to grow?
As it turns out, you might not even have to choose between staying true to your values and making a profit. For example, according to a 2012 Goodpurpose study that surveyed over 8,000 people, ‘social purpose’ was the leading purchase driver for 53% of consumers (when quality and price were equated).
So if you’ve got great products at a competitive price, your values might actually set you above your competition.
And that’s not all.
Younger generations are increasingly plumping to spend their hard-earned cash with socially responsible companies. By demonstrating that your brand is driven by strong values, you’ll build an image that will last long in the minds of your customers.
Take the fast-food brand Leon — they recorded a 24.5% increase in profit from 2018-2019, all while maintaining their commitment to reusable packaging, having a zero-waste-to-landfill policy, and a limited selection of meat on the menu.
Consumers are happy spending money on good products, but they’re even happier if they know that these products are part of a great wider mission.
If you’re ever unsure of how to actually go about staying true to yourselves then just check out Chloé’s fantastic four-point process — it’ll put you right in no time.
Need help bringing your values to life in your projects? Get in Touch
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