#FACES 10 with Hanneke van der Horst, Head of User Experience at NET2GRID
Today we shine the spotlight on Hanneke Van der Horst, Head of User Experience at NET2GRID! Hanneke has devoted more than 10 years of hard work to produce great user experiences in the field of energy insights and data-driven services. Her experience as Product Marketing Manager and Value Stream Lead in big Dutch corporations in the energy field has allowed her to develop a 360°view of a successful customer journey. Hanneke has an MSc in Industrial Design Engineering from the Technische Universiteit Delft.
Hello Hanneke! Thank you for being here with us today. Alongside the product, design, and software teams you are responsible for leading a design intuitive, research-driven end-user experience. How does your work here at NET2GRID contribute to the company’s success?
Hi Mirka! Thank you for inviting me for this interview. The journey of energy companies who investigate how energy services can contribute to their goals typically starts with creating a business case and validating their customers' needs in their market. The best way to conduct such a customer validation is to really experience the services and measure the “customer appetite” via surveys and Google analytics. They can make use of our “test drive/pilot in a box”, including our white label app, Ynni. After the decision to move forward, a significant part of my work has to do with onboarding their User Experience (UX) teams and showing them how to use NET2GRID’s Ynni app. From a user perspective, it’s very interesting since Ynni has a lot of different features and can accommodate a lot of use cases.
For our utility customers, a smooth customer experience is extremely essential as it can lead to an increase in customer satisfaction, engagement, and loyalty. What does it take to create a positive user experience and how does NET2GRID achieve that?
Most people don’t have a clue about their energy usage. Energy used to be a low-interest product. That is changing rapidly with the rising tariffs. The first step is to educate people in a simple way. NET2GRID provides personal relevant insights that help people to understand their energy usage. But, these insights alone won’t deliver engagement after the first period of education, we know from experience. As soon as people take their first step in the energy transition, they become much more engaged. I believe that added services like solar monitoring, smart EV charging, or monitoring energy savings products have the potential to boost loyalty. And these are services that NET2GRID can support on top of energy insights.
What are some common patterns that you have noticed in users of energy insights apps?
As explained above, it starts with understanding energy usage. Users typically try to figure out what is happening in their homes. Some do change their behavior in a certain area, like switching off all standby appliances at night and checking the result in the app the next day. Most people need more help to change their behavior. From user research, I know that a larger group of people would like to take action, but without giving up on comfort.
What is the most challenging aspect of your job?
What I really like in my job is thinking along with customers who are relatively new in this domain. Sharing my experience on how to collect customer insights and translate them into the customer journey and user experience they aim for.
You have been working for Eneco and Quby where you were responsible for the user experience of various smart appliances and, later, you led an end-to-end value stream of 25 people from different disciplines. What lessons have your previous experiences taught you and how are you bringing them to NET2GRID?
I have experienced the journey from a startup to a scaled company. It's an exciting but bumpy road. What I like to do is to focus on the longer term, where we want to be at the end of the year or next year, and which steps we need to take now to move in that direction. I’m very results-driven, but it has to make sense.
Could you please share with us some of the recent user experience developments at NET2GRID that you are most proud of?
One of the first things we changed in the Ynni app was the UX framework of the Home-screen. To fit different situations, like AMR vs Real-time energy insights, Gas next to Electricity,call-to-action cards, and so on. In the meantime, we get those new requirements from customers. So we are now able to support all sorts of needs.
Thank you, Hanneke - and now the desert island question! What three items would you bring with you to a desert island?
My two daughters, because they make me smile. And my running shoes because I feel great after doing sports.